After reading the first four chapters of Janell Hobson’s Venus in the Dark, the figure of Sarah Baartman brought me back to a blog post I made almost a year ago this month for my Diverse Bodies, One Nation class with Adriana last spring. It was about an artist’s creation of a cake depicting a black woman’s body, pictured below. I would like to repost it for our blog. It all started with this article, Swedish minister denies claims of racism over black woman cake stunt.
Almost a month ago, The Guardian released this article above detailing an event celebrating World Art Day that took place at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden. Included at this event was the notorious cake depicting a black woman’s naked body. The artist of the cake, Makode Aj Linde, created this cake and participated in the event by being the head of the body, as seen in the photo above, with his face painted black. Once people began to cut pieces off the cake’s body, he would scream in “pain.” (At the link above, the Guardian includes a 29-second video of the artist faking pain while a woman cuts off part of the cake’s body.)
This “stunt,” as the Guardian describes, elicited furious emotions from the African-Swedish Association, with people calling this “genital mutilation cake” a spectacle. The Swedish minister, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, was given much heat by a representative of the association, claiming her actions were “extremely insulting.” Adelsohn Liljeroth defended herself by pushing the blame towards the artist, saying that she was just asked to cut the cake, that it was art, and though “bizarre,” there was nothing wrong about it.
It is clear that this cake is of only the breasts, stomach, and pelvic area of a woman. From our discussions, how does this play into how bodies, in this case a woman’s body, are seen as sexual? Why depict a naked body? Why was Adelsohn Liljeroth asked to cut that specific pelvic area from the cake? What are the gender roles being played here–black woman cake with black-faced head of man?
Targeting the overall question this article is leading us towards, was this right? Was there a line that was crossed? What does it mean to say that “art needs to be provocative”? Are there boundaries and limits to this provocativeness?
Connecting my old post to what we read from Hobson, this ties into the ways a black body, especially the sexualized parts of a woman, are considered strange and are being used as a exploratory tool as well as a tool of entertainment.
What do you think of this?