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It’s hard to imagine what the Swedish culture minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth must have been thinking when she participated in the Moderna Museet’s “cake party” to address the problems of female circumcision. Featuring Swedish artist Makode Aj Linde “dressed” as a female black African caricature, the images of white Swedes laughing while a prominent leader cuts a maimed black female cake should shock almost anyone.
Many Swedes of African descent are not happy. Kitimbwa Sabuni, spokesperson for the National Afro-Swedish Association (Afrosvenskarnas riksförbund) told The Local.se that minister Liljeroth must resign.
“According to the Moderna Museet, the ‘cake party’ was meant to problematize female circumcision but how that is accomplished through a cake representing a racist caricature of a black woman complete with ‘black face’ is unclear,” Sabuni said in a statement published by The Local.
The artist who created the food art work, Makode Al Linde, is known as a provocateur. One series of objects, which was featured in his Afromatics show a few years ago, focused on racist African stereotypes. Linde has been posting about his controversial performance on his public Facebook page and referring to it as “my female genital mutilation cake performance.”
The comments on the artist’s Facebook page are as diverse as you might expect from such a shocking work. Some don’t shy away from using awful terms to describe the artist, many focus on him not being black enough (or a type of Uncle Tom), while others seem more supportive of his artistic tomfoolery.
One critical commenter, P.S.M., wrote:
how the f** is this clever. because you insulted and hurt black women and ppl of colour or any shade of humanity. do you think that the the pictures of whole families and communities standing smiling while crowing over a lynched dead body in the south of the USA are also fit for art consumption. what exactly were you saying that hasnt already been said you prick. really…. every mixed race black woman or man that sees you must be spitting right now. what next, House nigger art, camp faggotry ( cus you look like rick james’s bitch in this pic) jewcakes with gasmasks and the whites dressed as Nazi’s as they eat it. this is an example of intellectual laziness at best.
Another, Terngu Adamu Tyoer, was more supportive:
you clever clever trouble maker! Just read the article and and the comments from other readers and all I can say is YOU DO KNOW HOW TO START A WAR don’t you now! lol Hope you are well! kram from rainy london! Xx
And this one by Kwamla Hesse did not shy away from criticizing the whole performance and the artist:
Make no mistake this is an incredible shocking and racist portrayal for any government minister to sanction. It points to the assumed level of understanding about racism amongst white people. The fact that it was produced by a Black artist is totally irrelevant!!!
Black people can be just as woefully ignorant about the dynamics of racism and how it plays out in our societies. Any point he was trying to make has been obliterated by his profound internalized self-hatred.
We’ve reached out for comment from the artist, who has agreed to answer some of our questions.
UPDATE: AP reports that the Stockholm museum was closed today as the result of a bomb threat. No bomb has been found.
h/t Henry Chalian