Makode Linde, a Swedish artist of Afro-Swedish heritage, was commissioned to do an art installation at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm’s MoMA, for the opening of a new FGM exhibit. The video above shows the work: a cake in the form of a Sara Baartman-esque caricature of a Black woman’s body from neck to hips, with Linde’s head in blackface atop the neck. Linde instructed Sweden’s Minister of Culture, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, to cut the first slice of cake from the genitals, simulating a clitoridectomy. As she cut, Linde screamed and begged her to stop.
She laughed. Everyone laughed. She fed a piece of the cake to Linde.
They partied/cut more cake/Linde screamed/they laughed/ate cake.
I was immediately reminded of this.
And then I read up a bit on Linde’s work and saw this:
In the three days since, outrage has swept the world via social media. Here are some of the reactions I’ve gleaned:
1. This isn’t racist, but it IS offensive to women.
2. This is the most racist shit I’ve ever seen, and they’re all gonna get away with it because the artist is Black.
3. “The minister’s decision to take part in a dubious event with cannibalistic overtones showed her incompetence and lack of judgment.”
4. Art is meant to be provocative! Finally, everyone is talking about racism and thinking about racism. No one can ignore it in this moment.
5. I can’t…I can’t…This is too painful.
6. “They wanted me to cut the cake.” Ultimately, the artist was to blame for any confusion, [Minister of Culture Liljeroth] said, arguing that the situation had been misinterpreted. “He claims that it challenges a romanticised and exoticised view from the west about something that is really about violence and racism,” she said. “Art needs to be provocative.”
Here’s what I said: Yes, Linde thought up a grotesque art installation and presented it to the liberal elite. Yes, Linde invited Liljeroth to cut the cake, starting with the genitals.
She happily agreed/laughed/he screamed/begged her to stop/they laughed/took iPhone videos/cut more/laughed at the screams/ate cake.
Let them eat cake.
**Correction: I state early in this blog that the cake was commissioned for the opening of an FGM exhibit at the Moderna Museet. This cake was actually commissioned for a celebration of the establishment of a Swedish organization for the arts; it is a birthday party of sorts for the arts in Sweden, so Swedish artists were invited to design birthday cakes. To view video Linde’s explanation of why he chose to create a blackface-and-FGM themed cake, click here.