Voices: Makode Aj Linde And That Cake

By Arturo R. García

Via CarltonJordan.com

It’s the kind of thing that shocked even experienced anti-racism activists around the Web: a few tweets went out along the lines of, What’s this going on in SwedenWHATTHEHELL? And this time the reaction was justified.

In what he has called an attempt to draw attention to the practice of female genital mutilation, Swedish artist Makode Aj Linde made himself into a “cake” as part of an art installation at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. This past Sunday, according to reports, the country’s Minister of Culture, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, took part, cutting slices from “his” clitoris as he screamed in mock agony, and Liljeroth and the crowd of white attendees with her laughed at what a spokesperson for the National Afro-Swedish Association (NAFA) called “a racist spectacle.”

Shots of Linde’s project can be seen here, as well as in the other source material for this post under a heavy Trigger Warning. But as you can see from the image above, blackface was apparently a part of Linde’s repetoire before this incident.

Colorlines quoted from an interview with the artist on Swedish radio:

Makode: It’s sad if people feel offended, but considering the low number of artists in Sweden who identify as Afro-swedish I find it sad that the Afro-Swedish Association haven’t followed my artistry and do not understand what my work is about.

What did the minister of culture say to you when she was there? Was she hesitant about eating of the cake?

Makode: I didn’t clearly see her reaction, but judging from the pictures she was surprised when she realised that the cake was living. And before she put the knife into me, into the cake, she said “Your life will be better like this”. And when she put the knife into me I started screaming and begged her to stop. This was a part of the performance.

But what was the thought behind you being a living head?

Makode: I wanted to somehow make the cake more human, not just a silent object. More interactive, simply.

That “interactivity” seemed to take on another dimension over the past 24 hours, as police were called to the museum to respond to a bomb threat not long after the images of Linde’s efforts went viral. And NAFA began to call for Liljeroth’s resignation.

“I understand quite well that this is provocative and that it was a rather bizarre situation,” she was quoted as saying. “I was invited to speak at World Art Day about art’s freedom and the right to provoke. And then they wanted me to cut the cake.”

In her attempt to justify her participation to the event, Adelsohn Liljeroth said that art was meant to be provocative, and that the pictures of the event are misunderstood. This reveals her careless attitude towards this racist incident, but it is also a familiar manifestation of Swedish politics and how it views black people.

Clearly, Adelsohn Liljeroth participated and encouraged a crude racist act in her capacity as a government representative. What makes matters worse is that she subsequently expressed no regret, instead choosing to question the intelligence of all those who criticise her. If a top politician can resign for such things as buying diapers with government credit cards, as happened recently, then it goes without saying that Adelsohn Liljeroth must take responsibility for what happened and resign.

But more than that, why is it that Stockholm’s Museum of Modern Art, a major state institution, organised a spectacle like this? This can only be understood by looking at the country as a whole. Racism and racist depictions against black people are common in Sweden.
– Jallow Momodou, The Guardian

The revulsion works on two levels. The artist, Makode Aj Linde, obviously intended his installation as a work of deadly-dark, vicious satire dramatizing the horror of Female Genital Mutilation, and he hit that mark like a laser.

The reaction of the assembled crowd, though, is perhaps more disturbing. They don’t seem to understand that this isn’t supposed to be “Ha-ha”-funny, and if observers ascribe their glee to a detached, condescending form of racism, I’d be hard-pressed to disagree. Really, who knows what they were thinking? Who the eff laughs at that?

But I also strongly object to the widespread characterization of the installation itself as somehow racist. The artist is black, and his intention is obviously to dramatize a human rights violation being perpetrated against African girls and women. The interaction with the cake may well have been racist, but the installation itself is exactly the opposite of that.
– Tommy Christopher, Mediaite

Mariam Osman Sherifay of the Swedish Centre against Racism described the images of the minister as “deeply disturbing”, and said the art installation was “problematic”.

“In Sweden, it seems to be comme il faut to caricature Africans in ways we could never imagine portraying other ethnic groups which have been persectuted: for example Jews, Romani or Saami people. Still in the 21th century we haven’t dealt with the stereotypical notions of Africans that seem to have been passed on by heredity in Swedish mentality.”

Karin Olsson, culture editor of Swedish daily Expressen, wrote that the event appeared to be a “brilliant performance, in which the initially humourostic tone raised questions about power and colonial perspectives.

“Of course it would have been easier to do as PR consultants and nervous press spokesmen probably would have recommended: politely decline cutting the cake, to avoid tough questions afterwards. But such sterile politicians, who never take a risk, are not wanted,” she wrote.

The arts critic Dan Jonsson of the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter raised the possibility that Adelsohn Lijeroth had been “trapped”, and said that whatever the minister had chosen to do, it would have been “wrong”.

“Either she’d been accused of being judgemental about artistic freedom, or to express racism,” he wrote. “If this is the case, it was a skillfully set trap.”
– Al Jazeera

When I saw the photo, I initially thought of Sarah “Saartjie” Baartman, commonly referred to as the Hottentot Venus. Baartman was an enslaved South African woman who was literally put on display as entertainment throughout Europe because of what the medical and scientific establishment regarded as her exceptional bodily form: protruding buttocks and an elongated labia.

Baartman was “exhibited” in London even after the abolition of the slave trade in 1807 and eventually sold to a Frenchman. In France she was exhibited under even more demeaning conditions, some at the hands of an animal trainer. She was the subject of several scientific paintings. Baartman died in 1815, and her preserved genitals and brain were on display at the Musée de l’Homme in Paris until 1997, when her remains were repatriated to South Africa at the request of President Nelson Mandela.

Liljeroth’s participation in the current heinous act demonstrates just how far we haven’t come as it relates to the treatment of black women’s bodies. The kind of pain, suffering and humiliation endured by Baartman — who was literally property from which economic institutions like slavery, and cultural institutions like museums, benefited during and after her lifetime — is met with little regard or sensitivity by those who would call themselves “anti-racist.” If Liljeroth is anti-racist, then Houston, we have a problem. This wanton act and her willing participation in it speaks to the perversion of power as it relates to race, gender and sexuality.

– Nsenga K. Burton, The Root

With allies like this, who needs enemies? Cutting into a woman’s body even symbolically is violent. To watch as these White women laughed and consumed cake, supposedly out of concern for a problem that does not happen to them, belittles the struggle to end the horror of FGM. The fact that the cake is a red velvet cake underscores the violence as the red symbolizes blood. Hasn’t enough Black blood been spilled in the name of White supremacy and patriarchy?

There is also the black face to consider. There is never a situation in which this will ever be acceptable. The idea that because art is meant to challenge the consumer does not give one license to behave in a racist and sexist manner. This supposed art does not challenge any preconceived notions and only affirms White supremacy and patriarchy. It dehumanizes instead of uplifting.

I felt pain looking at that cake. It leaves me speechless and unable to articulate the hurt. That this was done by a supposed liberal group of White women comes as no surprise, because there is a long history of White people claiming to be concerned with the plight of people of colour, even as they work to support and strength White supremacy. These women may well have felt that because their intent was good that no harm was done, but they are wrong. Intent is not a magical elixir and much harm has been done in the name of good intentions.
– Renee Martin, Womanist Musings

On the one hand, the minister was just doing her job. Obviously it’d be hard to double back and say, “Well, I just applauded provocative art in my speech, but this is just too yucky.” On the other, more sensible hand, WHO SCREENS THE OBVIOUSLY RACIST SHIT THAT ENTERS THIS GALLERY? That might be a good thing that ought to happen before government officials make asses of themselves. Or before anyone has to cut a racist cannibal circumcision cake. Ever.
– HyperVocal

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  • Anonymous

    Ugh…so queasy…my I’m not sure if my stomach can take it!
    It gives me the chills all over just thinking about it.

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  • guest

    “Hasn’t enough Black blood been spilled in the name of White supremacy and patriarchy?”

    This part of the post misses the point in part imo. The artist criticizes “Black blood being spilled in the name of Ancient (partly Black, partly Arab) African traditions” in the installation if I understand it correctly. The underlying root he attacks imo leaves negligible space to critique to White supremacy and patriarchy – for this case.

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  • YES.

    It was his intent. He has said as much. But for some reason all of this media blow back hasn’t touched on his explanation at all. Instead, they only give these itty-bitty vague sound-bites about how he believes he’s been misunderstood and those in the ministry should understand what he was trying to get across. I’ll try to find the article, but he EXPLICITLY said that he was trying to make this exact point with his performance.

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  • http://x23plane.blogspot.com/ Student of the World

    Her response is interesting in that, to her, the issue is partly about how African Diasporans cut Africans out of the conversation as if what they say doesn’t matter. 

    I don’t think it’s intentional but I certainly see her point in regards to that. The discussion about race in the world is often focused on the perspectives of PoC in developed countries.

    I think she is right about Linde is racially confused and pulling an Uncle Tom to impress his wealthy white friends. 

  • http://x23plane.blogspot.com/ Student of the World

    I’m surprised you guys didn’t refer to Kola Boof’s reaction to the cake:


    Kola Boof is a Sudanese American Adoptee who was vaginally infibrulated herself, and her reaction to the cake, in particular the issue itself is interesting to read.

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  • pearls and revolution

    I wrote a poem when I saw this : 
    I am not palatable. the pain I have experienced can not be easily digested with sugar. You will not speak for me, your art does not seek my voice. Lift your forks from our necks. We will not let you use our experiences to belittle our royalty. We will not allow the assault on our bodies. We reclaim our selves and will not sit quite while we are attacked. You will not injest our bloody sorrows and pity us. You will not use our bodies to nourish your lip service- Pearls and Revolution 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1041570829 Erin Winslow

    How about systematic discrimination in hiring, housing, access to quality educational opportunities? University educated professionals sit unemployed despite employers claiming that there is a desperate need for their expertise? Hell, I’m white and have seen job opportunities “disappear” when I applied for them.  

    • guest

      What makes this particularly “Swedish”? Have you tried getting hired according to your qualification as a European in Brazil? Maybe counter-intuitively, the welcome isn’t so warm either. Sweden has been at the forefront of stronger legal measures against what you describe on the European level. I doubt the already quite groundbreaking anti-discrimination directives on employment, housing etc. would have been possible without the positively radical Scandinavian EU member states. It seems odd to me you should single out Sweden of all possible countries to look at in the matters you describe. Relatively speaking, imo you’ll have a hard time finding a more receptive societal climate for the issues you name outside of Sweden, or outside of Scandinavia.
      Does that mean the situation is great or it’s time to lean back? Certainly not. Real-life substantial change is still far away. But let’s not forget in other societies you don’t even have the consensus you call hypocritical yet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1041570829 Erin Winslow

    I am a member of Vänsterparti, the Left Socialist Party, and had emailed the members of my local party and asked them to put the cake issue on the agenda for last night’s meeting. I am currently working on a statement that our group will publish in the local newspaper, online etc. explaining just HOW and WHY this so-called artwork is offensive as hell. 2 older party members pointed out that Sweden has historically played both ends again the middle. For example during the 1980s leading politicians denounced racism while simultaneously selling weapons to the former-Apartheid regime in South Africa. 

    NOTE! I am NOT saying that ALL Swedes are racists, but rather than there is a great deal of hypocracy about the fact that many of them are. This country gets its progressive image from the actions of grassroots anti-racist activists and then the political leaders take all the credit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1041570829 Erin Winslow

    I am a member of Vänsterparti, the Left Socialist Party, and had emailed the members of my local party and asked them to put the cake issue on the agenda for last night’s meeting. I am currently working on a statement that our group will publish in the local newspaper, online etc. explaining just HOW and WHY this so-called artwork is offensive as hell. 2 older party members pointed out that Sweden has historically played both ends again the middle. For example during the 1980s leading politicians denounced racism while simultaneously selling weapons to the former-Apartheid regime in South Africa. 

    NOTE! I am NOT saying that ALL Swedes are racists, but rather than there is a great deal of hypocracy about the fact that many of them are. This country gets its progressive image from the actions of grassroots anti-racist activists and then the political leaders take all the credit.

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  • jjoneluv

    I agree.  I heard all this talking and some laughter in the background. 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=110600736 Natalie Red Morse-Noland

    Compared to the US political spectrum, she probably is considered “leftist.” That might be where Reddrabbit is coming from.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=110600736 Natalie Red Morse-Noland

    Compared to the US political spectrum, she probably is considered “leftist.” That might be where Reddrabbit is coming from.

  • Anonymous

    @twitter-223065878:disqus No, I got the context. I disagree with your opinion about how “ingenious” (now disingenuous?) this was compared to Anna Deveare Smith, because you, by linking your list, classed all above persons and cake together in your statement of Aj Linde’s art. Demasiada. And we’re talking about more than using FGM to embarrass elites.
    @70bdd5fb74aaf00ed0401d0c1d21e050:disqus yes! Such a Tyler move. That was ingenious.

  • Violetta

    I am so ashamed. This was posted over at BoingBoing, and most of the comments (from straight white males) were along the lines of “oh this is so incendiary, it’s meant to be offensive, anyone who’s offended by this get over yourselves, you don’t understand art.” 
    I tried to explain the meaning of privilege to them in another post shortly before this one, but was just accused of “Trying to shut down debate.”  I give up. :/

  • George Clarke

    I don’t care if the artist is black. He may have more melanin in his skin than those Swedes, but melanin can’t stop his brain from failing to see how damaging this is.

  • Digital Coyote

    It hurt me to look at the cake.  Why does my body, already thought to be available for universal consumption, have to be made in to a gross caricature that further erases my humanity for people to understand it represents a Black woman? I think the Sambo/golliwog thing makes it easy for the people who were supposed to be reached by this installation to ignore the meaning behind it. 

    It hurt me to see the smiling faces as the artist screamed.  I could not cut in to anything I intended to eat if it started to scream, squeal, cry, or make any other obvious sound of discomfort.  That they would be so enamored with the smug of their “progressive” attitudes that they couldn’t see what they were engaging in–obvious racist iconography is obvious–and didn’t make the connection between their infliction of pain on this reactive body says an awful lot about the hole where their humanity should be. 

    Liljeroth was not “trapped.” No one forced her to smile and laugh at a person screaming as she cut in to their “body.”  I bet if the cake body looked more like her own she would’ve paused at seeing the red inside as she tried to hack off a piece. 


  • Anonymous

    It’s such bullshit.

    It’s supposed to be art, but if we deconstruct the imagery and the racist and misogynistic political message, we are ‘reading too much into it’ and ‘we don’t understand it’.

    Today a white middle class guy told me this piece of crap wasn’t racist or sexist. He also told me to shut up, because he knew better.

    I feel so hurt by this cake thing, and by the people reacting like shits around it. It’s really depressing and discouraging.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FXYSYEYHC6ZEKFYVMLLPEB7Y6Y Elizabeth

      lorobird, that guy is an enormous racist, entitled asshole. If he can’t at all understand ANY way in which this might be hurtful to POC, and especially WOC, he’s less than pond scum.

    • Anonymous

      Wow, the entitlement of that guy. :(

  • NKR

    A better comparison Odd Future! I could imagine Tyler the creator baking this cake for his 18th birthday.

    • Kikita

      NKR I’m a little in love with your brain.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=697711208 Lola Jusidman

      Yeah. but I’m kind of disturbed at his use of “irony” too. Why does the basic respect we have worked so hard for as women have to get thrown out the window in the name of irony? What the fuck does it accomplish, why do people accept it? As I said before, “irony” (as it is used by Tyler the creator, this artist in particular, visual and musical artists everywhere, comedians, and above all hipsters) trivializes whatever it revolves around. It’s decadence and apathy. Fuck irony. 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=697711208 Lola Jusidman

    If this man’s intentions are what they think they are, then he is using a very painful and serious issue to make fun of how racist Europeans are. I can’t stand it when narcissistic and irresponsible “artists” create “ironic art” to show that they are both above mainstream incorrectness and mainstream correctness. Art that uses violent or degrading or bourgeois imagery under the excuse of “irony” is a violent act in itself because it perpetuates violent images, robs them of meaning, and desensitizes the public so that they think these images are OK. This type of art does not help any situation or make the world a better place. It is a type of vandalism that mars the honest and serious efforts of those who truly care. This type of art is very childish and irresponsible, and really all it is meant for is to attract attention and controversy. 

  • http://twitter.com/ohtarzie Tarzie

    Sacha Baron Cohen meets Stanley Milgram meets Anna Deavere Smith meets Red Devil’s Food. Agree completely that the FGM angle was bait. Quite ingenious, actually. 

  • http://www.examiner.com/family-in-new-york/rahela-choudhury RCHOUDH

    I didn’t find this performance art piece to be thought-provoking at all, since it failed to start any meaningful conversations about the topic the artist sought to get attention for, FGM. Instead the artist came out looking like he was making a mockery of victims of FGM, what with him “screaming” over being cut. And his donning of a cartoonishly horrendous form of blackface reinforces the notion that he was simply mocking victims of FGM, no matter what his true intentions were behind making this piece. I also hope he realizes that as a male he should have checked his male privilege and should have consulted actual women (particularly the victims themselves if they choose to participate) first before making something that to me looks misogynistic. As for the Swedish culture minister and other women at the event, they should also be reprimanded for their light hearted attitude to this artwork. I look what someone else mentioned earlier, it reveals their privilege to be laughing at something they will never be subjected to. And them willingly going and cutting off a piece “down there” reveals they were actually enjoying and going along with this awful performance (it would have been different if they simply smiled uncomfortably and declined to have any cake). 

    • Anonymous

      She should resign. It’s so misogynistic and racist, I can’t fathom how there isn’t a public outcry for her to resign. Sweden must be a pretty racist place.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1041570829 Erin Winslow

        Yeah, it is. I’ve lived here since 1994 and have seen and heard amazing rationalizations for Swedish arrogrance and smugness. 

        • guest

          Same as above – never experienced a society as a whole and individuals so engaged and brilliant in reflecting hegemonic forms of power, and ambition to toss them – all first in their own, then on the European and then possibly in other parts of the world. The influence of Sweden on EU foreign policy and strategies regarding the Global South, social rights, gender equality, immigration has been most positively advanced compared with the Central and Mediterranean states. Grossly unfair imo.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1041570829 Erin Winslow

            Sweden (as a country) *talks* a good story but does NOT “walk the walk.”  Even POCs who were born here (speak Swedish fluently & without a foreign accent) are automatically assumed to be less competent than their blond-haired peers. For example,  an Iranian man told me how frustrated his oldest daughter becomes when ethnic Swedes talk to her as those she is an idiot. She was born here, has grown-up with the language and culture, and has always had top marks in Swedish & English in school. Her younger sister is lighter-skinned and has green eyes and is not addressed in the same patronizing manner. Now multiply this example a thousandfold and you will have a more realistic picture of Sweden. 

            As far as the EU is concerned, Eva-Britt Svensson has been incredibly important in pushing for greater gender equality.  She recently had to step-down due to health problems, unfortunately, but she is an example of a Swede who really does “walk the walk.”  She is one of the main reasons I joined Vänsterpartiet. 

      • http://melancholywise.tumblr.com/ Sophie
      • guest

        Sweden is one of the most advanced places I have lived in from a perspective of reflecting and dismantling gender and race privilege. If you find a better place, please let me know. This is just grossly unfair with a country that’s fairing pretty well on an international relative scale. If you strive for the absolute, more power to you. But relatively speaking, Sweden is about as gold as I’ve seen it get.

  • Anonymous

    you know… this “artwork” was one of the most disturbing things i’ve seen, the video was even more disturbing to hear him screaming as the white women delightfully dined on the black woman’s carcass – a very macabre feel. i think… if the audience members who have had some sort of deference to the issue, understanding and comprehending how serious and dehumanizing FGM is, this wouldn’t hurt nor disturb people the way that this does.

    but watching these white women eat the cake while laughing as the artist is mimicking the screams that countless African women have uttered… made me think of those lynching days, when you used to sit with your picnic basket and watch the black folks get hung… luckily for these women, they didn’t have to pack a basket, they were able to feast on our flesh, not only metaphorically but this time literally.

    to me, this was not only a statement on FGM but how a lot of white folks have feasted on our blood, sweat, and tears to power themselves up socioeconomically. we have been their sustenance.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jane-Laplain/100002900807756 Jane Laplain

    I’m wondering what my response would have been had I NOT just watched the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” Episode where Data is having a nightmare that he is cutting into a cake shaped like Deanna Troi, which screams in agony as people gather around to chop off a piece.  My very first thought was “The artist must have gotten the idea from that episode.  In fact they practically copied it to the frame.” My second thought was “And… Blackface?? Really?? REALLY”  My third thought was “What a lousy point to make at the expense of African survivors of GM, and I bet in all this controversy not a single African woman who has gone through genital mutilation was ever consulted and I bet never will be.”

    • Anonymous

      Oh wow. So on top of everything, it’s not even an original idea! Fantastic. What an asshole.

  • leo stotch

    It seems to me that the cake was a trick in what was really a piece of performance art.  Show a (mostly) rich, white audience a disgusting, violent racial stereotype in a context where they think it’s safe to accept it, and watch them gleefully participate in a very grotesque spectacle. The cake wasn’t meant to be an actual statement against FGM, it was a prop Mr. Linde used to make a very dark point. Whether it’s OK for a man living in Sweden to use that iconography to make that point is an open question, but I really don’t think the cake was meant to be the art on display. The artwork was the group of white people cutting up the body of an African woman and eating it and laughing, while somehow still under the impression that they were making a statement against FGM.

    • http://twitter.com/ohtarzie Tarzie


    • Reddrabbit

      I agree, Leo. This performance art piece exposes the Swedish left elite in a diabolically effective manner. After all, no one was forced to cut into the cake or consume it. One could simply not participate in the macabre spectacle. Brilliant!

      • leo stotch

        That’s very much what I was trying to say. But there’s still the question of whether using the issue of FGM as a prop is acceptable. I agree with NKR that African women who have been victims of FGM weren’t given any voice here, and using their experience to make a broader point about European racism or colonialism might have been less than brilliant.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1041570829 Erin Winslow

        What on earth leads you to believe that this was the Swedish LEFT elite? The current Swedish government is RIGHT-WING as is the Cultural Affairs minister (the woman laughing as she cuts the cake).  She belongs to the leading political party in the current government, the Moderatparti.  Moderatparti translates as “moderate” or middle of the road party but really it is just the name the old Right (wing) party took at the end of WWII to distance themselves from Nazi attrocities.  

        • Laila

           Yep… cause *that’s* the issue
          don’t try and derail

  • k.eli

    This whole thing merely harkens back to the classic racial monolith ideology in which one black person apparently speaks for us all. So in that regard, of course those people would see nothing wrong with the cake because a black guy made it so it couldn’t possibly be racist and anyone who complains is just being overly sensitive. And to the “artist” – in what way is portraying a black woman in the most dehumanizing form of blackface not racist? Would the supposed message of your piece really have been lost had she looked like an actual human being? Methinks not. Call me cynical, but I can’t help but feel he did so because he knew it would prove controversial and controversy entails publicity and that’s clearly all that self-serving piece of you-know-what cares about because it’s certainly not the victims of FGM.  

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=37604408 Lenzy DrHiphop

      I don’t think you’re being cynical at all. Although I have no idea his”true” intentions, I’m willing to wager that part of his reasoning was to garner attention by being controversial. He knew the turd-storm it would start and he commenced with creating it.

       I find issues with not only the art but everyone’s reaction to it as well. I think its tasteless, vapid, and contrived attempt at trying to be “edgy”.  That said, I also have a problem with others casting their version of the reality as the most valid or real. Whether you like the art or don’t like it, it doesn’t make your (and this isn’t addressed to anyone in particular) opinion of it more valid than someone else. Art is as subjective as things can get. While I think its a piece of turd, I don’t claim that my opinion is an authority in this manner. And truthfully, his intention means nothing because in the social world intent really has nothing to do with how people perceive things when it comes to “touchy” subjects like this.

      Also I find it problematic that so many people (African Americans, Afro-Europeans, White Americans, etc) are casting their view of FGM (a term itself that is political and really serves one group’s agenda) without regard to the women who actual endure it. Although I find it to be grisly (similarly to how I view male circumsion), I can’t help but feel ethnocentric when I cast my view of it as some authority on the matter.

      People of all stripes need to check their standpoint before they go casting stones at others. 

  • http://twitter.com/TheSuperAmanda Super Amanda

    I could care less about this guy’s “art”  or his “need to challenge”, he’s a pretentious and very harmful dolt who just provided a laugh for hateful white supremacists (of all colours) the world over. Reminds me of Madonna trying to “shock” with racial and sexual imagery and get attention simply to get attention; same narcissistic zero intellect agenda. He could get a job designing Anna Wintour’s Black-a-Moor office clocks when the trust fund is gone, I’m sure.

    • Violetta

      Don’t forget Damian Hirst the (rich white male) bad boy of British art. 

      Most high art to me is a cynical joke on the public. Yet the art that I like is smirkingly condescended to as “pop surrealism” by these people. Sorry if I think someone paying hundreds of thousands for a table covered in cigarette butts or a turd in a picture frame is unjustified.

  • White Girl

    In art school I encountered many self-congratulating cretins like this one. They would appropriate a standard shocking image, such as a swastika, and expect to be lauded as deep and meaningful. “You just don’t get my message.” It’s not enough to throw a hurtful stereotype out for viewing (or cutting/eating… !), it must be skillfully done. This is a mess, in every sense. The artist probably counts this as a success “because it gets people talking”, but it’s childishly crude and will serve to further amuse racists.

  • Mohwanah

    It reminds me of the discussion with Kara Walker and her images. She creates them to reveal sexual violence in ante-bellum South. But who is her audience? White upper class. Her audience squirms and looks at her images with morbid fetishism. This audience laugh and gawk at this interactive art piece. Did he know the ramifications of a white woman cutting up the genitalia of a black woman? 

    I swear, European racism knows no bounds. 

    • TRB

        Could you elaborate on your view of Kara Walker and her art? I understand the parallel you’re drawing, but I don’t think her images rely on the kind of disingenuous shock value that this installation does. I see this piece as appalling because, as Lola pointed out, it exploits an experience and employs degrading imagery to be “ironic” and provocative. Kara Walker’s art is controversial, but I don’t see it as exploitative or mockingly cynical.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=697711208 Lola Jusidman

        Honestly all of these comparisons are making me realize that white consumers seem to be favoring and raving about the black artists that confirm their negative stereotypes the most. I think Kara walker is really cool aesthetically but again, I don’t know that the narratives that she pushes accomplish anything. They give us the same images we’ve always seen of a by-gone era. I haven’t inspected her art so much and maybe she does this, but I think it would be a lot more interesting if her art gave the never-told realistic account from the black perspective, instead of rehashing white perception once again.  But with Makode Aj Linde, Kara Walker, Tyler the creator… not that all black celebrities fit stereotypes and that all white consumers support these people, but it seems like kind of a trend. I mean, do all of the white reviewers who rave about Tyler the creator and co think they’re excluded from the “white people are racist” joke? There’s a kind of conscious embrace by white consumers of the ironic joke on racist white people but I bet there’s also a subconscious draw to the racist images. I don’t like this idea that some black artists are perpetuating racist art in the first place. It’s so insane that people tolerate and love it. I agree that Makode Aj Linde is obviously a ridiculously extreme outlier and should be judged on a completely different plane. But I just wish in general that the public would support the black artists who perpetuate positive images instead of those that confirm stereotypes, even “ironically”. 

  • NKR

    Further, this is how the” conversation” goes: some white people can exonerate themselves by blaming racism on a Black man/Black people in general, others can exonerate themselves by condemning this shocking isolated example. Either way White people are the ones speaking the “conversation”. African women aren’t even the audience much less asked their opinion when they are the subject of “conversation” the cake has more to say than any African women! He exposed racism by being racist – good job!