Is candy still dandy? Sugar Carpet at Smack Mellon Gallery
Today’s subject is subversive but sweet. Readers who decided not to splash the cash on the Roses rug your scribe recommended, may opt instead for the Valentine’s day gold standard gift – sugar. But if your yen is more cerebral and less Willy Wonka, consider a linked arm visit with your loved one to the Sugar Carpet at Smack Mellon in Brooklyn.
More than two tons of refined white sugar (presumably the unit measure is American tons i.e. 2,000 pounds x two, or the approximate weight of 29 Bridget Jones clones at the point when she most lamented her weight gain), were used by French artist Aude Moreau to create this iteration from her sugar carpet series. A smooth-sifted 24 foot long “carpet”, the design is simple and traditional with a Persian rug motif border. The carpet “blocks out the majority of the gallery restricting visitors to the perimeter of the space”, a viewing experience rather like Richard Wilson’s sump oil installation 20:50 which your scribe remembers with fondness from the Saatchi Gallery’s original St John’s Wood location in North London.
Gallery bumpf says Sugar Carpet “spotlight[s] the overlooked and undervalued process of production”. But the renaissance of ethical production and a public supply chain, championed in no small part by the those who design and produce bespoke, handmade carpets and rugs, allied with increased consumer demand for provenance and atelier craft, suggest this thesis is no longer valid. So too the suggestion sugar is “food”. Sugar’s reputation is in freefall. Its “domestic comfort” label still has legs, but calling sugar “food” is rather like President Ronald Reagan’s administration labeling ketchup a “vegetable”. Technically accurate but ethically compromised.
When Hurricane Sandy breached Brooklyn and flooded Smack Mellon, Sugar Carpet was washed away. Although remade with a two ton sugar donation, your scribe wonders whether a more appropriate response would have been to accept the flood as a subversive act of nature and let it become part of the ongoing performance of the Sugar series. Just as the sump oil in Richard Wilson’s 20:50 suggests the medieval concept of a cosmological sump as a collector of dregs, so too Sugar Carpet might be better viewed as both a sump and eulogy for the delicious, but nutritionally bankrupt, white stuff. DJ