NYU Black Renaissance Noire Winter 2014 - Page 97

While Creative Time’s website includes a compelling essay written by the narrator of a documentary about the forced and child labor that constitute modern slavery, it doesn’t name the mega-corporation that owns Central Romano, the plantation on which it was filmed: Flo-Sun, of which Domino is its best-known subsidiary. If the people at Creative Time, along with Walker, have seen this film — as indeed they must have in their research — I wonder how they feel about the ironic possibility that Walker’s sculpture might have been enabled by slave labor. Carol Diehl is an artist, critic (Contributing Editor, Art in America), and former performance poet (Nuyorican Poets Cafe), based in New York. This article originally appeared on her blog, Art Vent. Essential reading includes the Vanity Fair article, “In the Kingdom of Big Sugar,” which inspired the two documentaries, a cnn documentary on how the Fanjuls could be the “First Family of Corporate Welfare,” and another on their strong-arm tactics with lawmakers, from Wikileaks. You could spend days, as I did, reading about the moral and ethical transgressions of the Fanjuls, and just when you think it couldn’t get worse, it does: In 2010, the New York Post’s Page Six reported that Pepe Fanjul’s executive assistant of 35 years is the ex-wife of former kkk leader David Duke, and the current wife of Don Black, a former kkk grand wizard and member of the American Nazi Party. He now runs white-supremacist Web site StormFront.org. A company representative said, “While we may not agree with someone’s politics, we wouldn’t terminate them for that…. We will not discriminate against anybody…” One could also make an issue of the extensive advertising Walker is providing for another sponsor, Two Trees Management, owned by Creative Time board member Jed Walentas, who worked for Trump before taking over his father’s real estate business, and will have 1700 luxury apartments to sell in his massive waterfront development on the site (as well as 700 “affordable” units, the number bumped up under pressure from Mayor de Blasio). And then there’s the non-renewable polystyrene that went into this gigantic temporary work that, like Styrofoam, could take a million years to break down. However next to the question of how the 80 tons of Fanjul sugar were most likely sourced, these are mere quibbles. So much for institutionalized protest — this is art packaged to look like radicalism while supporting capitalism at its worst. Next: “Occupy!” (The Musical), brought to you by Citibank. BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE In the Dominican Republic, the Fanjuls have been subject to repeated allegations of labor exploitation, particularly of undocumented Haitian migrant workers with little to no legal standing before Dominican government institutions. The U.S. Department of Labor includes sugar from the Dominican Republic— much of which comes from Fanjulowned plantations or is imported to Fanjul-owned refineries — on its annual “List of Goods Produced by child and Forced Labor” Both a 2005 Canadian Broadcasting Documentary [“The Price of Sugar,” narrated by Paul Newman, and the 2007 film “The Sugar Babies” narrated by Haitian writer Edwidge Danticat [author of the Creative Time essay] call attention to the working conditions of impoverished cane-cutters laboring at the Fanjuls’ Central Romana. In the United States, meanwhile, opponents of u.s. agricultural subsidies and government protections have long criticized the Fanjuls for building their dominance in the domestic market on the backs of artificially inflated prices and the u.s. taxpayer…. I lifted this mission statement from Creative Time’s Wikipedia entry, well aware that it is not same statement that appears on their website. However having been Director of Public Relations (a somewhat hilarious title, given that I was the entire department) for Creative Time in the mid-80s, when it was a pioneering organization and very true to its nonprofit status, these were the words I used to promote it and feel best represent the inspired vision of founder Anita Contini. 95 Pepy and Alfy Fanjul who run Flo-Sun, inherited the sugar empire from their Cuban father. Dubbed “the Koch brothers of Southern Florida,” they‘re said to be friends and neighbors of the Kochs who, in comparison with the sugar barons, look like Mother Theresa clones. NOTE: