Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Artist Who Created Racist, Sexist Circumcision Cake Speaks Out

Yesterday I wrote about a cake, which was created by Makode Linde to supposed highlight FGM and women's oppression.  Images and video of his performance quickly went viral, with many quite forcefully calling his so-called art racist and sexist.  Linde has decided to answer his critics in the following series of videos.

How did this idea come about as an art installation?

I have been working since 2004 with the image of Blackness, criticizing different ideas of Black identity within my art. I have been doing this revamping the blackface into different forms and thereby criticizing it. And for the 75 year birthday of Swedish organization, they invited a couple of different artists to design birthday cakes and I was one of these artists, so it felt like the natural and appropriate thing to do to make it in my art series Afromantics -- which is the name of the art pieces where I use a lot of the black faces. I was asked to the cake and I did the cake as a part of my series Afromantics.

Was the Minister of Culture aware of your art installation or was it a surprise?

I think she came aware of that she was going to cut the cake, but she wasn't aware of how the cakes would look and when she saw the cake and found out that it was partially alive, I think she got quite surprised.

How have people responded to you and the art installation?

I think a lot of people saw some images taken during the performance and they saw the images online and took the images out of context. They accused me and the culture minister to be racist against racist criticizing different aspects of just the subject. So I think people who have been upset, about the art piece or about the images they seen, I think that they misunderstood the intention or the agenda of me as an artist.

Why did you choose female circumcision as the subject?

There are many different entries to this piece and because of the medium, which was cake, the mutilation input of the piece was quite natural since you would have to cut it up. I think that all interesting art piece have different entries or aspects that you view up them on, or different interpretations. Since I am dealing with prejudice or ideas about Black identity, and the theme for the birthday celebration was censorship, and freedom of speech, I think that this piece was very appropriate. Because a lot of the prejudice that concerns Black identity is that female circumstance is because of oppression against women, and this oppression only takes place in Black Africa and so on but the oppression is one oppression it's like it's one racist and one oppression against women and homophobia. There are different forms in Africa, Sweden or anywhere so by them labeling oppression to only be female circumcision or taking a second form, I think that's putting on blindfolds for seeing what oppression really is.

 How did social media impact the way the art installation was perceived?

Yes of course, the vastness of social media, encourages misinterpretations when it comes to the context.

Please remember that the artist's first language is not English. Having watched his explanation of his work, has your opinion shifted?  Do you believe his intent justifies his work?