I'm not sure which I find more appalling? That female genital mutilation was reduced to a gimmicky cake cutting stunt by the artist Makode Aj Linde (a black male artist!), or that Sweden's cultural minister, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, didn't hear about the installation beforehand and have red flags go off in her head? In fact, the cultural minister, a presumably educated, worldly person actually participated in cutting the cake a-la-Venus Hottentot with laughter.
Sadly, yet again, the black female body is an easy target, a symbol to be mocked and trivialized. That a subject as horrific as female genital mutilation on an African woman can be laughed at in a room of Europeans makes me feel like so little in the world has changed.
Currents readers, I open it up to you. Does art have a responsibility?
This incident made me think about Andreas Serrano's- Piss Christ installation-a small crucifix in a jar of urine and I came to the conclusion that it's not the same. A philisophical attack on religion is a different statement that may offend, but we have the right to express our beliefs. Art that mocks a real practice, which injures and kills millions of young women makes me believe that a great disservice has been done, to the women who were victims of this practice and to the people who will not be moved to act against this barbarous custom because it can be so easily trivialized. IF the point of the artist is to mock European inaction in Africa, or something along those lines, then the point was clearly lost.
I do not believe in censorship but the cultural minister, as a woman and a person who is supposed to support the enrichment of humanity through the arts, should be ashamed of her behavior. Her job demanded that she not take the knife, that she not slice the chocolate woman and say, "Wait, this is wrong." Or "What is he trying to tell us?"
The reality is, the "cultural minister" just didn't see anything wrong with it. That, for me, is the saddest part of the story, for all of us.