Sweden: Culture Minister in ‘Racist Cake’ Art Controversy

News website grioo.com reports that on April 15, 2012, Swedish Culture Minister, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, attended a exhibition preview at Museum of Modern Art of Stockholm to celebrate ‘World Art Day’.

The highlight of the show seems to have been the tasting of the ‘Painful Cake’ representing the body of an African woman, as the following video uploaded by Pontus Raud on YouTube shows:

The showpiece is the Work of Makode Linde. The author posted a picture of the event on his Facebook profile, and explains:

Documentation from my female genital mutilation cake performance earlier today at stockholm moma. This is After getting my vagaga [vagina] mutilated by the minister of culture, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth. Before cutting me up she whispered “Your life will be better after this”

Art Installation - Makode Linde's Facebook page

Art Installation – Makode Linde's Facebook page

According to ‘The Local‘, an online news portal, the video caused outrage among Swedish citizens, including that of Kitimbwa Sabuni, spokesperson for the National Afro-Swedish Association who pleaded for the resignation of the Minister.

On Facebook, user Lyly Souris [fr] wonders:

Pardon, quel est le nom de l'artiste car j'aimerais comprendre sa démarche?
Cette recherche de compréhension n'annule pas mon sentiment d'indignation. Je ne veux pas me réfugier derrière l'idée qu'au nom de l'art on aurait le droit de tout faire. Je ne pense pas que c'est une polémique inutile qui est en train de se créer mais juste faire prendre conscient à cet artiste, à cette ministre de la culture et à tous les autres, qu'il est fini le temps où on laissait faire pour ne pas se faire remarquer et pour être accepté dans la société. Aujourd'hui nous sommes plutôt dans un mouvement : respectons nous!

Sorry, what is the name of the artist because I want to understand his approach?
This search for understanding does not negate my outrage. I do not want to hide behind the idea that in the name of art we have the right to do anything. I do not think this is an unnecessary controversy that is being created but just raise awareness of this artist, this Minister of Culture and all others. Time is gone when we didn't say anything to not get noticed and to be accepted in society. Today we are rather in a movement: Let us respect ourselves!

theddyralf comments on YouTube [fr]:

Des blancs bouffant du negre a Stockholm. Jusqu ou les leucodermes vont-ils pousser leur haine contre le negre et la chosification du negre. Le comble est qu il y a toujours les negres de services qui se prettent a se jeu, en mettant leurs …service a la disposition de ces sales besognes.

White people eating a piece of black person in Stockholm. How far will white-skinned people push their hatred against black people, and commodify them? The irony is that there are always black people who play this game, putting their…services at the disposal of this dirty work.

Linde also received public messages on one of his Facebook profiles, like Damone Moore who encourages the artist:

I love your last work. It makes people think and talk about what happened to slaves in a VERY LITERAL sense….

A 2009 article published on UrbanLife.se, a website on Afro-Caribbean culture, evoked the provocative aspect of Linde's work:

With deceptive ease and humour, Makode Linde's work shows western conceptions of the good man and the good life in junction with the perception of the Other. A whole army of small mutations are formed that demonstrates a totally romanticized vision of the part of western history that is characterized by violence, slavery and racism.

For Maxette Olson [fr], a Guadeloupian based in Sweden, such justification does not clear the artist:

Makode est un jeune homme noir. Il n´a peut-être rien contre les noirs mais est un noir suédois qui se croit immunisé contre le racisme comme beaucoup de noirs ici.

Makode is a young black man. He maybe has nothing against black people, but he is a Swedish black who thinks he is immunised against racism, like many other blacks here.


  • Only humans are African Black man

    What the f***?

    A african man again…why people want to deleted on the worldwide Africans or Black mens?!…

    Really outrageous.
    France is maybe like that too?…Pffff
    So much contry like laughing on African.

    Without be bad, a day, racists will find a problem with THE LIFE MAKER.

    …Where we can go on this Planète without find racism? Where?…We are not lucky? No I didn’t believe, No I don’t believe and No I’ll believe that because blacks are the first humans have walked on this Planete.

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