Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Swedish artist Makode Linde defends his "racist" black woman cake


The Swedish artist who made the blackface cake that has caused an international firestorm is himself a black man and says he created the cake to critique Western ideas of blackness. In a video interview with Al Jazeera, Makode Linde also said Sweden’s Minister of Culture, whose laughter at the cake angered many, had nothing to do with his decision to present it. ”She wasn’t aware of how the cakes would look,” Linde said. “And when she saw the cake and found out that it was partly alive, she got quite suprised.

Read the full story at our content partner Dominion of New York.

35 comments:

  1. Your an insensitive asshole, I hope the publicity and profit are able to make up for the loss of your soul! You had to be partly them to even consider this cruel joke... Heartless, just like the rest of them.

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    1. MS. Blair, I understand your anger, but you don't have to use offensive language.

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  2. Makode Linde, if you really think you critique something with this stuff then you must live in wonderland.
    A work of art hast to transmit the intention itself. If you have to explain it than it is weak. In this case it is not only weak, it is disgusting because it is attacking the mind of people that should be empowered.
    Step down from the high pony and excuse.

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    1. "A work of art hast to transmit the intention itself."

      Since when in history?

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  3. Do you homie. I absolutely got it when first presented and I love it more now that it seems that a political figure will lose their job because of it.

    What you're done is shone a light on how fucked up white people are, it's just sad our people aren't intelligent enough or too knee jerk to understand how big of a mind game you've played with the world....

    Keep up the great work, you've made a new fan.....

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    1. How f___ked up "white people are". More proof racism comes in all colors.

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  4. Well, brother Bama, I think you give Mr. Linde too much credit. Yes, the white consumers certainly looked foolish, but the real fool is Linde who obviously doesn't have a clue. kzs

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  5. What an ignorant half breed trying to pretend that there's nothing wrong with this situation and that cake. This is why racism will never go away. You take a couple half breeds that hate (the African in themselves) plus money,this is what you get.

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    1. Please use the word biracial, mixed race, or bicultural next time. I consider "half breed" an offensive word.

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  8. Question is Prince your daddy?

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  9. Obviously no one has seen Kara Walker's work...which got the same reactions of it being racist (not to say that this is at the same level as Walker's work, but still).

    Before you guys start criticizing him, why don't you jump over to read the full article and understand the full context? It was made for a exhibition concerning female circumcision (obviously in regard to Africa). To me that changes the meaning of the work. His interest was in showing that while western culture argues that some African practices are "obscene" and sexist, there are things that go on in Europe that are obscene and sexist as well (i.e. European women having no problem cutting into a cake with racist iconography's vagina)...while the "cake" screams. Isn't that obscene?

    I think, after knowing the full context of the work, it's actually a good piece. Too bad the media is only interested in reporting what we get readers instead of the full story.

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  10. Thank you for the sane and reasonable explanation of your work. I hope your explanation helps people to see how inappropriate their reactions were when they first saw the disturbing images of the event. I will share this link on facebook right now. I am disappointed by the world's reaction, which was one of ignorance and emotion over reason. People were either too lazy to investigate the context of the photos, or too ignorant to understand the intent and the scope of the work, or both. I hope it has also started some meaningful discussions and not just outrage.

    Congratulations on shaking the world with your art. That is no small feat. I think that in the future people will look back on this as a positive artistic endeavor. There are many layers of meaning to this piece of art, some of which were probably unintended, but no less important. Bravo. Keep up the good work.

    Regards from Canada

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  11. So what was your reaction to the laughter? Did the mood in the room ever become more somber? Do you think your intended message in designing the cake was received by the onlookers? Because to me it looks like you cast your pearls before swine and gave them another chance to laugh at blacks and view them as different. I'll tell you this, if you made a cake of a blonde woman and hacked off it's clit while you screamed through the table in "whiteface", the minister of culture may not have even participated. Certainly the atmosphere would have been different.

    Listen, I hate censorship too but that doesn't take away individual responsibilty for your work. I think you'd do well to consider how black comedian/actor Dave Chappelle walked off the set of his own show on Comedy Central because he felt some the racial jokes were not bringing mutual understanding but instead throwing his own people under the bus and causing blacks to be mocked and taken less seriously.

    Go ahead be daring, but remember your resonsibilities.... and your ancestors.

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  12. People who find it offensive and racial,have a problem with their race,am black myself and it seems to me that this is just blown out of propotion.Its a rasist world we live in,not the objects or subjects,its us.....the human race.An act like this to me is just plain simple,a good joke.Loved it.......Get rid of the inferiority complex pple

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    1. Speak for your self not every body else . The whole idea was shambolic and you are not a spokes person for black people ........I think that you unfortunately are the one with the inferiority complex if you think that caricature resembles you or your mother or anyone else the Mighty Creator ever made....Spend your life being laughed at but do not be the voice for sensible, intelligent black people....Perhaps maybe you are a relative of Makode Linde ????

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    2. I do find this piece offensive. I do not classify myself by race. I never have and never will. These are classifications assigned by people who have oppressed and colonized as frequently as they have been able. I am however a person of African descent. I have no problem with my origins. As a matter of fact I defend when this sensibility is attacked. This was a literal attack and it is deplorable.

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    3. Even if this cake was displayed within a more serious and sombre atmosphere it would still be totally unacceptable simply because the caricatured face looks like so many horrifying racist mockeries made over centuries (which, by the way, you could also call "Artistic Expressions")- it does so without any clear display of divergence to these representations. Racism and sexism is perpetuated in the world by objects, subjects, and language- aside from violence and exclusion that is EXACTLY how it exists. I believe if you recreate such images or language you have a serious responsibility to yourself and the world to avoid perpetuating them- it's outstandingly naive to let the effect of your piece depend on people reading up on it thoughtfully to ensure they are interpreting your work in the way you want them to- and its outstandingly careless if such a misinterpretation may result in perpectuating retrograde assults on human dignity. I feel this is the full extent of the Linde's transgression. As it happens in this instance the cake resulted in the horrendous trivialisation of a black woman's agony- but I have actually met people who I know would stereotype further; it would confirm their racist visions and would be all the more gratifying that a black person had created them; they could say "he's black, and even he 'admits' to it". This is exactly why it doesn't matter what race the artist is, why we can't accept that makes it somehow magically 'ok'. I reject that its somehow more 'mature' for us as a society and artistic community to take these sort of risks with the liberty that men and women have fought and died for. Its incredibly immature to think we're at a stage where we can laugh about it, or not take our position seriously enough to clearly make a stand on it.

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  13. Makode Linde, I love you. You are brilliant.

    As for the example given by "anonymous" above, if the cake would have been a blonde woman being cut to pieces, it would have been more accepted than the black woman. I do believe that the minister of culture would have participated just the same, aswell as most of the other persons in the room. When the black cake was cut a lot of people found it very brutal and uncomfortable, I actually believe that a blond cake would have been shurged at in sweden. It would have been considered a comment to the growing market for plastic surgery of labia, and of all sugically altered blonde bloggers. It would have stirred some reflections in peoples minds, but not at all in the same way as the black cake did, since the meanings of the the black cakes goes so many layer deeper.

    People do tell jokes about blondes aswell. Sometimes humor is liberating, even though it often depends on who is telling the joke.

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    1. What does blackface minstresly have to do with Female Genital Mutilation? What is humorous at all about this piece? How did these people bring themselves to laugh at the thought of a Black woman being tortured? How sick is that? Why are caucasians so enamored and addicted to Black Face Minstrels and other derogatory stereotypes that have existed for over 200 years. What is the deal with that? Please explain. Is there a deeper psychosis that is present here that we are deciding to ignore.

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    2. the difference is anonymous is that white people have not been oppressed by blacks,white people have not had ugly caricatures drawn to humiliate by blacks. white people were not enslaved and then categorized by their facial features, which the darker one was the uglier one was considered.White people were not given names to suit those types of features inherited.Some White people just don't get it and then will blogg to the point of saying if it was a blonde one would complain. It has the features of an ugly black minstrel dressed up and its derogatory beyond comprehension...and what on earth does it have to do with female circumcision and why did the minister of culture, take pleasure in cutting out the vaginal region and feeding it back to the blackened face (biracial) artist??? Its sick.It says black, slavery, racism and ugly to me.....nothing to do with circumcision and if it says circumcision then why are white people so delighted in eating it??? If the cake was of a white woman who had been raped or who had had an abortion would it look good if black people ate it???????

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    3. I agree so wholeheartedly. I'm glad I'm not alone here. There is no inverse of this piece that we can speculate about because as you pointed out there has not been an agenda to propagate a derogatory stereotype of a caucasian group of people for hundreds of years. It does not exist. If it did they would not have the grace we have to handle it either.

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    4. i was going to comment but these two responses have SAID it all... shame on the artist, shame on the official i as a black woman am not amused...

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    5. To Anonymous: "When the black cake was cut a lot of people found it very brutal and uncomfortable, I actually believe that a blond cake would have been shurged at in sweden. It would have been considered a comment to the growing market." Whether or not that is true- the trivialization of a blonde cake- the issue here is of the black cake and the connotations it represents. Blacks and White are completely different groups of people, especially with respect to political/colonial history. And if you think back to slavery, and how blacks- but for this matter- black women, in particular, were treated (raped, abused by white men etc., separated from their children and husbands to sleep with lewd/vulgar slave masters) you'll realize that this cake is an offensive social commentary. Futher, in recent history as well, we see that the image of the black women has been attacked many times over. The advent of the human zoo, and the story of Saartje Bartman from South Africa is one good example. She was locked in a cage and made to entertain whites in Georgian England, as her "hyperatrophy" of her bum caused great sensation among spectators. If you google and read up on her story, you'll realize it's more than comparable to what Linde has done here. Think of the numerous black women and girls who unconsciously internalize the racist and degrading messages communicated by this depiction of the black woman. So it's not enough for you to look at an issue on a superficial basis, you must see the history behind everything.

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    6. further to what Diallo said above, another big difference is that plastic surgery is a choice and one that people actually spend money to have. It is sanitised and fully consensual.

      Female gender mutilations is involuntary and can cause fatal bleeding not to mention a real difficulty to enjoy sex later in life... are we really suppose to go 'haha! this is hilarious?!' really??!

      You think that these two worlds are the same and should be treated the same? I don't!

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  14. I'm not so sure if I can agree with the accusation or even inference that some of the Blacks' uneasiness with the cake---and especially the slicing of the cake---is due to any type of lack of appreciation of "artistic" expression. "Art" is relative, to the nth degree, but sensitivity, propriety, decency and fairness can be easily defined.

    Do the cake's exaggerated facial features and strange mouth offend Black females and in particular dark-skinned Black females, who carry an enormous burden to prove their "outer beauty" on many continents? In the eyes of a world that holds much hatred toward African folk with black skin, was this cake decapitation "justified" because, after all, she/it was just an extremely unattractive black African woman?

    Sometimes I think that the world requires that Black people lower our sensitivity/comfort level gauge to the lowest notch: "Oh, it's just a joke! When I told you to 'lighten up' I wasn't trying to hurt your feelings because of your dark complexion. It's just a joke!" Or, "I KNOW you're not taking my brillo pad joke personally, now are you?! Your hair IS kind-o'-rough and scratchy!"

    To this day I remember, freshly, Michael Jackson's insistent, incessant apologies ad nauseum, that he was not anti-semitic, for those two little words, "Jew Me!" in his song, "They Don't Really Care About Us!" (After giving "a pound of flesh"---his very own---some Jews still refuse to believe that Michael did not mean to be racist and anti-semitic in singing those words). Was that "artistic license" or outright bigotry? According to many Jews it was the latter.

    When I was a little kid I saw a sketch on a TV Christmas variety show in which the actors were joyfully singing the Carol, "Deck the Halls". Very festive. Until. UNTIL they got to the line, "Now We Don Our GAY Apparel...." (Uh, oh!) The singers made a silly hand gesture when they reached the word gay, and that was it! All Hell broke loose in the aftermath. I think that was American television's Stonewall Incident! Except for "irreverently daring" shows like "In Living Color" no one has had the audacity to make fun---even in "artistic expression" or creative jest---of gays in America. Was the outcry an outpouring of being "too sensitive" on media watchers' part in the gay community?
    What would happen if someone comes up with a cake with undeniable stereotypical connotations of being Jewish or gay, and then starts slicing and chopping it, all the while giggling? Oof! I think from many fronts the loud backlash would be at the highest decibels!

    All this to say: I believe most Black people at this forum ARE savvy enough to appreciate humor, art---in its most abstract manifestations---and even satire. I have found that the tone of most Black posters is very conciliatory in the face of examples of blatant, unmitigated anti-Black racism; ie the Russian and Eastern European xenophobia toward African immigrants. What Black dissenters here DON'T appreciate is insensitivity smoothed over with a heavy lacquer of what is thought to be, "Artistic Expression."

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  15. http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/81491#.T5Byi_DnFmh.twitter

    ...the missing link...

    bless
    sistaLee

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    1. I just returned from the Pambazuka News website you suggested and I've added my name and email to their mailing list.

      As the "Old Folks" (Elders) in the American South would say: "My, my, my!" I'm left speechless by this gift, Sista Lee. I'll just leave you with a big ole cyber hug and a mutual blessing. Ashe!
      John

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  16. I'm not exactly sure where the art is in this. I can forgive the Swedish minister that did this, but not the clown in the video above. The stereotypical, extremely dark African woman crying out in pain isn't meant to offend? This is the same type of woman that "news" shows show when they highlight problems in Africa. He's operating off of this stereotype and then tells people that is wasn't meant offend.

    The Swedish culture minister got a "black" person to sign off on this foolishness. Can't blame her, really.

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  17. Kola Boof lays down an outstanding CRITICAL ANALYSIS of the performance cake art.

    http://www.owlasylum.net/?p=1823

    Take notice, AfRAkans!

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  18. Please relax you sensitive Afro-ethnic babies. You are barking up the wrong tree and should focus on the blatant racism that is occurring on "both sides" in the bible-belt of the United States. The artist in question is B.L.A.C.K. and I do think that he wanted to highlight an issue that is still pertinent in Africa [female genital mutilation]. Are you mad because he is trying to help African women out? Doesn't that make you the racist? Bringing attention to an issue can never be bad. A white cake would not have worked in Sweden [heck, we are all pretty various shades of white] and would have misrepresented the entire vision of the artistic piece. Welcome to Scandinavia where we love all races.

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    1. Racism still exists in all countries, so please stop giving the impression that it doesn't in yours. I have actually met people who would see this cake and think it backs up their racist beliefs- they'd like it even more that a black person had created it; they could say "he's black, and even he 'admits' to it." So it doesn't matter if he's "B.L.A.C.K" or if you think you can recognise 'love' for all races- I'm especially doubtful of this as you call them 'Afro-ethnic babies'- how dare you!

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  19. Also, a white-colored cake would have made the piece just plain 'funny' with no other meaning attached to it. Everybody would have laughed and paid no more attention to it. No white person in Sweden would have cared. It is just plain humorous! Now, since it was a black-colored cake the artist [mind you black himself] not only made it entertaining but also intellectual and apparently provocative for some of you. The Swedish organization that originally complained was/is over-sensitive and did/do not want understand the underlying meaning of the piece. http://www.afrosvenskarna.se/

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    1. Anonymous, tell me me something I don't know.

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