Unmasking Classism, Racism, and Sexism and more…
I am trying to make sense of the installation art piece by the Black Swedish artist, Makode Aj Linde. As part of an art exhibit that focuses on female genital mutilation, Linde created a Venus Hottentot cake body for which he served as the head. Each time one of the attendees, largely White folks, cut into the vagina of the cake for their slice, Linde screams in pain.
Unspeakable—yes. Horrifying—yes. Art gone down a very wrong path—yes. What does it mean when a Black man creates and then performs a racist and sexist stereotype for a White audience. What is going through the individual and collective minds of the smiling Swedes as their culture minister feeds Linde the cake piece that she cut while performing a clitoridectomy on the body of the cake?
As my eye ran from the grotesque imagery of the cake to the minstrel show make up of Linde’s face, to the smiling minister of culture, Lena Adelsohn Lijeroth, to the laughing White folks who found cutting into a Black vagina laughable and kept cutting into it after Linde starts scream. I realized that this will be dismissed by many as “just art.”
There is no “just art” in our postmodern age (if there ever was a time this was true). Images communicate our best hopes and our deepest hatreds. They speak louder than our words and to think that it would be laughable to create a scene in which female circumcision would be viewed as an artist spectacle is obscene. The gallery that housed the installation and party claims that the display was intended to raise the issue of genital mutilation. The installation has done much more. It highlights the expendability of the Black female body and is a disturbing matrix of class, gender, and race. This is not art, it is a masquerade of wretchedness.