By Talia Ralph
ABOVE PHOTO: Swedish viewers cut into a controversial “female mutilation” cake at an art installation in Stockholm, which has ignited outrage and been called a “racist spectacle.”
Sweden’s minister of culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth has sparked outrage over her participation in a “racist spectacle” during which she cut into a cake depicting a naked black woman at an art show in Stockholm on Sunday, Sweden’s English newspaper The Local reported.
The cake was part of a World Art Day celebration meant to draw attention to the practice of female circumcision, the Moderna Musset museum told Business Insider. The cake was created by male artist Makode Aj Linde, who also played the cake’s head, screaming in pain as Liljeroth and others cut into it.
“This is after getting my vagaga mutilated by the minister of culture, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth,” Linde wrote on his Facebook page. “Before cutting me up she whispered ‘Your life will be better after this’ in my ear.”
The National Afro-Swedish Association expressed its outrage at the minister for taking part in the installation.
“In our view, this simply adds to the mockery of racism in Sweden,” Kitimbwa Sabuni, the spokesperson for the National Afro-Swedish Association, told the Local. “This was a racist spectacle.”
Sabuni and others have called for Liljeroth’s resignation over the incident.
“Her participation, as she laughs, drinks, and eats cake, merely adds to the insult against people who suffer from racist taunts and against women affected by circumcision,” he told the Local. “We have no confidence in her any longer.”
Liljeroth was sympathetic to the association’s reaction, but defended her participation in the event in an interview with Swedish TT News Agency, according to the Local. She argued that the situation was “misinterpreted,” and that the Afro-Swedish association should be directing their complaints at the artist.
“He (Aj Linde) claims that it challenges a romanticized and exoticized view from the west about something that is really about violence and racism,” Liljeroth said. “Art needs to be provocative.”
The minister of culture has proclaimed herself “anti-racist,” and has actively worked to change the country’s press subsidy laws to prevent taxpayers’ money from supporting extremist newspapers, according to Swedish newspaper FriaTider.
The image of the cake, which the artist posted to Facebook, stirred up a heated debate amongst users, as well.
“Before you applaud yourself too much for this playful activism, you should consider how these images might be more widely received and understood,” commented Karl Engman. “Well-intentioned as you may be, at the end of the day, your audience is laughing over a Jim Crow caricature of a butchered black woman.”
“Art that comes from the heart feels and has compassion,” responded Linnea Lager, who also commented on Facebook. “To know that people out there are thinking, feeling, and hurting while imagining others pain has a value in itself.”