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View Diary: Want Milk With Your Racist Circumcision Cake? (48 comments)

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  •  an interesting commentary I read today (10+ / 0-)

    Swedish Golliwog Cake

    The article starts by describing the media fallout and then tells how the photo came to be taken, suggesting that the photo itself was the intended "art."  

    ....And on the other side of the cake, placed in the narrow space in front of a glass wall, stands one of the minister’s fiercest critics, visual artist and provocateur Marianne Lindberg De Geer, camera at the ready. And she snaps pictures of the whole series of events, as the minister is egged into doing more outrageous things, performing for the crowd.

    It’s of course no coincidence. The whole thing was carefully planned, a “mousetrap” as one Swedish artist puts it. And based on how much traction the picture of the event has garnered, it was a very efficient mousetrap indeed.

    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 a 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 of 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.

    Not sure if I can agree with the analysis, not really knowing enough about Sweden or this particular artist, etc., but I thought it might be useful to include for consideration.
    •  Yeah, I've got a brilliant Haitian artist (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Avila, mali muso, gramofsam1

      friend in Berlin who does pieces like that.  He did a fabulous performance art piece called Negerhosen, where he dressed up in traditional Bavarian garb... except that the Lederhosen were made to resemble Caucasian skin & blonde hair.

      The reactions to the piece were a part of it, just as Cage depends on the reaction of the audience for "Three Minutes."

      I absolutely believe that Linde is sophisticated enough to devise the entire scene to get progressive Swiss "antiracists" to show their "true colors" in public, though I certainly question the gender politics of the piece. (Do we really have to do this via a spectacularized and violated female body, and why the Venus Hottentot, when he could have chosen a male body to violate instead? Why does he have to use a black female body to illustrate his black male position in the elite art world?)

      My anger isn't directed at the artist, but at the folks acting out at the party, so if that was Linde's intent, he pulled it off perfectly.

      "If you fake the funk, your nose will grow." -- Bootsy Collins

      by hepshiba on Wed Apr 18, 2012 at 01:50:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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