Cannibalism, Circumcision and Racism: Still Alive in Sweden with Makode Linde Performance Art Cake
For Sweden’s World Arts Day, Swedish Minister of Culture, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, was asked to perform a cliterodectomy on a “performance art cake”. The cake was the idea of Afro-Swedish artist, Makode Linde. He thought it would raise awareness about female genital mutilation in Africa. Makode whose real (male) body was obscured below a table, screamed and moaned as the Minister of Culture smiled, laughed and then cliterally fed him the cake. To my knowledge, nobody vomited, which is what I suspect I would have done (and kind of still feel like doing).
Recap: female circumcision, cannibalism and racism are all apparently alive (and quite funny) in Sweden.
If Linde’s cake was intended to be an artistic statement about female genital mutilation in Africa, why was it performed in Sweden by a man in a seemingly celebratory situation? The Minister of Culture issued an official statement today:
“I am the first to agree that Makode Linde’s piece is highly provocative since it deliberately reflects a rasist stereotype. But the actual intent of the piece — and Makode Linde’s artistry — is to challenge the traditional image of racism, abuse and oppression through provocation. While the symbolism in the piece is despicable, it is unfortunate and highly regrettable that the presentation has been interpreted as an expression of racism by some. The artistic intent was the exact opposite.”
“It is perfectly obvious that my role as minister differs from that of the artist. Provocation cannot and should not be an expression for those who have the trust and responsibility of Government representative. I therefore feel it is my responsibility to clarify that I am sincerely sorry if anyone has misinterpreted my participation and I welcome talks with the African Swedish National Association on how we can counter intolerance, racism and discrimination.”
For his part, the artist is sticking to the partyline of the performance raising awareness for female genital mutilation. However, he also claims the Culture Minister whispered into his ear that things would be “better for you after this.” What the hell does that mean? WTF + WTF = ???
Click through to see video clips, which are disturbing.
There’s a whole lot of talk about this today, and I tend to agree with one of the commenters here:
“If I made a cake of a Jewish person and slid it into a oven to bake to start a party while everyone laughed and cheered to raise awareness of the still existent anti-Semitic views then that’s ok, right? Bottom line is you don’t take strides forward by taking steps back.”
Or to put it another way: A caricature cake baked to resemble an anti-semetic dictator is an ad campaign from Amnesty International. An Afro-Swedish male “artist” in grossly exaggerated “tribal” facepaint with a female body made out of cake is just tasteless.
I’d seen this cake before all the racism storm kicked off and whilst I am not surprised at how many people will always jump on the band wagon if there are comments and complaints to be made, it never once occurred to me that it was the world’s most racist cake. The idea of the cake (which remember is as much performance art as it is cake) was to raise awareness of about female genital mutilation in Africa – a shocking practice no one in their right mind would support. In less than 24 hours this performance piece / cake has caused millions more people to be aware of this issue, and crucially speak out against it. More than years worth of mind numbing very PC campaigns have done (none of which I can recall which says it all). Pretty astonished most of the coverage has chosen to ignore this fact.
With Eat Your Heart Out I knew it was OK pose with a vagina dentata cake between my legs and there is something about the ‘cake medium which makes it safe’ and acceptable – indeed numerous international newspapers and even the US Network news shared these images. Likewise the concept for my upcoming Edible Autopsy (Halloween 2012) would have been condemned if meat was involved, but being delicious cake and marzipan I have had nothing but people desperate to attend. My reason for these references are that I believe the artist purposefully chose cake to draw attention to the issues at hand without being too graphic – much how I purposefully choose to do and know works. Maybe it’s the short life span of cake, or it’s comforting nature, that has this effect – something I am still trying to work out myself!
I don’t think it was purposefully racist but a brave ‘artistic decision’ that has served it’s purpose in drawing attention to this issue – perhaps people should focus on how to effectively campaign against the practice rather than rage on about a cake. The only thing I found offensive about it to be honest was the dreadful cake decorating skills and acting. An approach like Helga Petrau-Heinzel’s marzipan caesarian, or Stephen J Shanbrooks chocolate sculpture cast from remains of a chocolate suicide bomber, would have been too realistic to stomach in this instance so maybe the artist purposefully made it look a bit crap?..
Just don’t get me started on the Atomic Bomb cake of 1946…