Swedish minister of culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth is facing criticism for her participation in an art installation at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet. Engaging with the art world seems like a perfectly reasonable activity for a person with her title, nej?
But what’s disturbing was the art itself: a cake, in the shape of a racist caricature of a black woman, inviting visitors to cut slices from the clitoris while a human head screamed in agony.
It just gets more bizarre:
“Before cutting me up she whispered, ‘Your life will be better after this’ in my ear,” he wrote in a caption next to the partially eaten cake.
“In our view, this simply adds to the mockery of racism in Sweden,” Kitimbwa Sabuni, spokesperson for the National Afro-Swedish Association (Afrosvenskarnas riksförbund) told The Local. “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.
Sabuni says the minister’s actions betray her “incompetence and lack of judgment.” Adelsohn Liljeroth defended herself, saying she was invited to speak about artistic freedom, so when she was asked to cut the cake, she couldn’t refuse. “He claims that it challenges a romanticized and exoticized view from the west about something that is really about violence and racism,” she said, adding, “Art needs to be provocative.”
“It’s extremely insulting for the minister to claim that we’ve somehow ‘misunderstood’ racism,” responded Sabuni. He says the minister should be held to higher standards — that the problems lie in her endorsement of racist art.
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.
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