Sugar Empire - Retracing Wealth

Sugar Empire -Retracing Wealth 1.1

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Description: In the seventeenth and eighteenth century sugar was a commodity that came to define English character, wealth and prosperity.  Over two centuries, the sugar and slave trade developed, emphasising the importance of British colonies around the world and ultimately establishing the solidarity, power and domination of the British Empire.  Enslaved Africans worked in the 'sugar islands' of the Caribbean to produce this commodity for the Empire, a human-trade, which devastated African, Indian and Caribbean communities.  The upper classes of English society displayed their wealth through their access to sugar, its consumption, exhibition and even waste, confirming their social standing and distinction.  In 'Sugar Empire - Re-tracing Wealth', the Action Researcher/Performer emulated the typical businessperson seen on the streets of the City of London, by wearing large headphones and carrying a black brief case.  Walking along the public thoroughfares of the two financial districts of London- Bank and Canary Wharf, it was not immediately clear what differentiated her from anyone else.  Inside the black briefcase, four bags of sugar had been poured, so that it carried the weight of this 'sweet', yet sour history.  At the base of the bag a small tube and cap had been inserted, so that at desired intervals, sugar could be released onto the pavement.  Periodically, the Action Researcher/Performer removed the cap so that the sugar inside could flow from the bag, spilling recklessly and wastefully onto the moneyed streets of this city. 


© Astra Howard 2014