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Cake and Black Face

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

Red Velvet

Images of Swedish minister of culture Leana Adlsohn Liljeroth partaking in World Art Day festivities April 15, 2012, at the Museum of Modern art in Stockholm Sweden have been causing a stir online.  The photographs in question show, the self-proclaimed "antai-racist', Liljeroth interacting with a piece of artwork by Makode Aj Linde, deemed a "racist spectacle” by the National Afro-Swedish Association.[3453]

Written accounts, as well as photographs and videos depict the piece as an edible work.  In short, the work is a sculpture in the form of an African woman's nude body.  The exterior of the cake is black with a round torso.  The head features a live actor in black face paint, who screams as patrons and guests slice into the red velvet cake body.[3457]


Linde's work often encorperates the use of black face and menstral immages.  In a video blog, Linde explains the cake and its inclusion in his Afromantics series[3451].  In the Afromantics series, Linde, of Afro-Sweedish decent, replicates the traditional black face image as a criticism of black identity.[3450][3449]

In advication for the rights of African women, Linde and his cake completely missed the mark, due to cultural insinsitivity.  Rather than attempting to humanize victims of genital mutilation, the cake approched the issue from a skewed european ethnocentric prospective. 

 Genital Mutilation

The purpose for the piece was to draw attention to the controversial practice of female circumcision in many African Nations.  This is the practice, otherwise known as female genital mutilation, refers to the cutting or removing of exterior parts of the vagina for non-medical reasons.[3454]

The risks of which include death, infection, and immense pain, as most procedures are preformed without anesthetic.  As is often the case with male circumcision, female circumcision marks a coming of age in many African cultures. [3455]

Black Women

Black women, in particular, fall into the groups of both "black" and "women", both of which have had to earn their equal rights in this country (US) and throughout the world.  The issue in this case is not with the heart behind the work, nor the intention, rather with prospective.

The image of genital mutilation on black skin simply carries a different weight when you are a member of either of these groups.  From the surface, the black body seems objectified by this piece.

from the pictures of the event, the women attending the gathering do not seem offended nor disturbed by the cake in the same way one would expect people of color to be; yet, all the women seem to be white. [3452] 



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  1. Carlton Jordan "Meet The Black Artist Behind Sweden’s ‘Racist Cake’ Controversy!." Carlton Jordan .com. 17/04/2012. 18/04/2012 <Web >
  2. urbanlife.se "Afromantics." urbanlife.se. 1/12/2009. 18/04/2012 <Web >
  3. AJstream "How did this idea come about as an art installation?." youtube. 17/04/2012. 18/04/2012 <Web >
  4. Vickan "Med den politiskt korrekta rasismen som värdegrund." skrivkonst.net. 16/04/2012. 18/04/2012 <Web >
  5. Natalie Evans ""A racist spectacle": Swedish culture minister slammed for 'black face' cake." Mirror news. 17/04/2012. 18/04/2012 <Web >
  6. Frances A. Althaus "Female Circumcision: Rite of Passage Or Violation of Rights?." guttmacher.org. 18/04/2012 <Web >
  7. "Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting." unicef.org. 18/04/2012 <Web >
  8. Janet Shan "Sweden’s Anti-Racist Culture Minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth Slices Into Minstrel Cake." hinterland gazette. 17/04/2012. 18/04/2012 <Web >

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