Show Hide image

The Swedish minister and the "racist cake"

Black face, genital mutilation: the grossest cake of all time?

Is there any way it could possibly taste good? 

Is there any context in which the creation, and consumption, of this could be justifiable? The cake above was made in Sweden, of all places: am I being urged to deeply think about something when my overwhelming feeling is revulsion?

But to the context. As part of World Art Day on 15 April, the Swedish artist Makode Aj Linde staged a performance at the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm where he blacked up his face, attaching his head to a cake shaped like the torso of a woman of - supposedly - unspecified African origin, and invited spectators to cut and eat the cake. Beginning at the clitoris, the slicing of the body-cake was, according to the artist's Facebook page, meant to symbolise the act of female circumcision. 

So far the loudest outcry surrounding the spectacle (condemned as making a "mockery of racism" by the National Afro-Swedish Assocation) has been directed towards the Swedish minister of culture, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, for her participation in the event. Photographed smiling and (cannibalistically?) feeding the "genital mutilation cake" back into the artist's mouth, there have been rather more than a few calls for her resignation.

Alice Gribbin is a Teaching-Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She was formerly the editorial assistant at the New Statesman.