It’s hard to know what to say about the video posted at the Tundra Tabloids. At an art exhibit in Stockholm on 15 April, visitors, including Sweden’s minister of culture, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, were invited to cut into a cake in the shape of a naked African woman. The cake had a fake head attached to it (via a ringed neck), which emitted cries of pain at each cut from the hungry art patrons.
TT includes the following passage from news coverage of the event (which, you may be relieved to know, shocked at least some Swedes, who are now calling for Adelsohn Liljeroth’s ouster):
As part of the installation, which was reportedly meant to highlight the issue of female circumcision, the culture minister began cutting a large cake shaped like a black woman, symbolically starting at the clitoris.
Makode Aj Linde, the artist who created the installation and whose head is part of the cake cut by the minister, wrote about the “genital mutilation cake” on his Facebook page.
“Before cutting me up she whispered, ‘Your life will be better after this’ in my ear,” he wrote in a caption next to the partially eaten cake.
So the artist meant well. Swedes of African origin were unimpressed, however, calling the whole thing a “racist spectacle.”
Frankly, it does come off as one. But in my view, that’s not even the most important point. Watch the video (it’s only 47 seconds) to see the art patrons laughing their heads off at the clever howling cake-woman. For them, it’s a big, hilarious joke. I don’t think these folks are representative of the Swedish people, but they are certainly Sweden’s self-appointed guiding lights. And they don’t have any compunction – any “ick” reaction, any vague uneasiness – about an “artistic” depiction like this.
It’s quite possible that they think the shock factor is an effective way to alert, well, someone – clearly not themselves – to the evils of female genital mutilation. But in that context, their full-throated laughter is simply grotesque. There are some jokes it is our purpose as a civilization not to take, and this is one of them. In terms of the horrors we should all be aware of, what the Stockholm arts crowd has alerted us to with this piece of “art” is itself.