Africa is a Country has the best piece I’ve seen that muses on the controversy over the Swedish “genital-mutilation cake”:
1 year ago
…Who’s Makode Linde, who staged the whole event? He is a visual artist, and as such has continuously asked uncomfortable questions about race, racial stereotyping and his own position as a black man in a condescending elite art world. The golliwog figure is a consistent image in his artwork, being placed on everyday objects, on paintings grinning nervously at the king, gawking in horror from children’s faces, at times undergoing almost formalist destruction. But just as importantly: he’s a club promoter and DJ, one of Sweden’s most successful, who knows exactly how to manipulate crowds and their emotions.
And I’m left wondering – whatever the artist himself says – if the intended artwork here is not the cake, nor the performance, but the picture. Because what Makode Linde and Marianne Lindberg De Geer have produced is a picture which is incredibly powerfully laden with symbolism of colonial exploitation.
The all-white crowd, laughing bayingly and taking pictures while the African Other screams in anguish.
The cemented association between racist stereotyping and the haute bourgeoisie, as Johan Wirfält writes.
The visual connection not just to blackface but to parodied, racist depictions of African art, the kind that is looted by colonialists and that provide ongoing shame for western Ethnographical museums. At, of course, an event in a museum.
The cutting from the genitals, the literal removal of the sexual subjectivity of the screaming woman.
The feeding, not as an act of infinite compassion, but as an objectifying joke, the “recipient” made entirely passive and unintelligible.
And the fact that the source of the food is the symbolic African herself, the resources stolen from her belly.
It’s a brilliant staging of structural racism and post-colonial existence.