Swedish Minister of Culture in “Racist Cutting of Clitoris”

The Minister must resign – African-Swedish Organization Says

Swedish minister of culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth’s participation in a “racist spectacle” in which she carved up a cake depicting a naked black woman has sparked outrage and prompted calls for the minister’s dismissal. “In our view, this simply adds to the mockery of racism in Sweden,” Kitimbwa Sabuni, spokesperson for the National Afro-Swedish Association (Afrosvenskarnas riksförbund) told The Local.

“This was a racist spectacle.”

Sabuni’s comments come following Adelsohn Liljeroth’s participation in an art installation that took place at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet in connection with World Art Day on April 15th.

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. But images of the event, which show a smiling and laughing Adelsohn Liljeroth slicing up the cake, have caused the National Afro-Swedish Association and its members to see red and issue calls for her resignation.

“According to the Moderna Museet, the ‘cake party’ was meant to problematize female circumcision but how that is accomplished through a cake representing a racist caricature of a black woman complete with ‘black face’ is unclear,” Sabuni said in a statement.

According to Sabuni, the mere fact that the minister particiapted in the event, which he argued was also marked by “cannibalistic” overtones, betrays her “incompetence and lack of judgement”. “Her participation, as she laughs, drinks, and eats cake, merely adds to the insult against people who suffer from racist taunts and against women affected by circumcision,” he said.

“We have no confidence in her any longer.”

Speaking with the TT news agency, Adelsohn Liljeroth was sympathetic to the association’s reaction, but nevertheless defended her actions. “I understand quite well that this is provocative and that it was a rather bizarre situation,” she said. “I was invited to speak at World Art Day about art’s freedom and the right to provoke. And then they wanted me to cut the cake.”

However, Adelsohn Liljeroth said the National Afro-Swedish Association’s anger should be directed at the artist, not at her, claiming the situation was “misinterpreted”. “He claims that it challenges a romanticized and exoticized view from the west about something that is really about violence and racism,” she said.

“Art needs to be provocative.”

But the minster’s defence of her actions rang hollow for Sabuni. “It’s extremely insulting for the minister to claim that we’ve somehow ‘misunderstood’ racism,” he said. According to Sabuni, the incident is “strange” but “not unexpected” in the Swedish context.

“Sweden thinks of itself as a place where racism is not a problem,” he said. “That just provides cover for not discussing the issue which leads to incidents like this.” While a museum is certainly allowed to do what it wants as long as the laws are followed, Sabuni argued that a minister needs to be held to “higher standards”. “To participate in a racist manifestation masquerading as art is totally over the line and can only be interpreted as the culture minister supporting the Moderna Museet’s racist prank,” he said.

David Landes/TT

SOURCE

8 comments

  • Art can be anything including a cake made by a Swedish mulatto called Makode Linde portraying an African woman undergoing female genital mutilation. The message was good since the matter is ongoing in many parts of Africa. Whether it was right for the Swedish minister for culture to have participated, is upon one’s feelings on the matter and their regard towards Africans.

  • Mwana Mwenzi hamisi (kilwa)

    African Countries should cut diplomatic relations with Racist Sweden. and perhaps deny all swedish people from travelling in Africa and never do any bussiness with Sweden.

  • Shocking photos show Swedish Minister of Culture celebrating with ”n*g*er cake”
    17 april 2012

    A macabre scene with racist undertones took place on Saturday when Swedish minister of culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth attended a tax funded party for the Stockholm cultural elite. The self-proclaimed “anti-racist” Liljeroth declared the party officially started by slicing a piece of a cake depicting a stereotypical African woman.

    Photos from the party at World Art Day have already been released on Facebook and are now going viral in social media.

    The shocking photos show several established left-wing members of the Stockholm cultural elite watching and laughing as Minister of Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth slices a cake depicting a black African woman with minstrel-esque face.
    Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth was invited to open the festivities by performing a clitoridectomy on the cake, which she did by slicing off the part of the cake depicting female genitalia. She then proceeded to feed that part of the cake to a performance artist, done up in blackface, his head protruding through the table.

    The events that unfolded at the party stand in stark contrast to Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth’s official political posititions. Publicly she advocates a strict hard-line approach against racism. When in 2010 the Swedish nationalist newspaper Nationell Idag managed to acquire enough subscribers to qualify for state-funded press subsidies she immediately took action to change the country’s press subsidy laws.

    – It is distasteful to support extremist newspapers, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth was quoted as saying in the government publication Riksdag & Departement, promising measures to deprive newspapers with ”racist” content of press subsidies.

    – Although this is a question of freedom of expression, we dont want taxpayers’ money to support this form of media, she further noted.

    Why government funds should be used to pay for cakes such as the one served last weekend, has yet to be explained by Liljeroth.

    http://www.friatider.se/shocking-photos-shows-swedish-minister-of-culture-celebrating-with-niger-cake

  • Swedish culture minister in ‘racist cake’ row

    Pictures of the Swedish culture minister cutting a cake designed like an African tribal woman has caused widespread anger and prompted prompted one organisation to demand her resignation.

    Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth was invited to cut the cake, which doubled as an art installation, at an event marking the 75th anniversary of the Swedish Artists Federation at Stockholm’s modern art museum on Sunday.

    The exhibit at the Moderna Museet was meant to highlight the issue of female genital mutilation, and Makode Aj Linde, its Afro-Swedish creator was part of it all with his head built into the cake.

    When Adelsohn Liljeroth put the knife into the cake, he screamed “No, no!” from inside the installation.

    A Swedish organisation promoting the rights of people of African origin on Tuesday called for the minister to resign for participating in a “tasteless, racist spectacle”.

    “According to Moderna Museet, the cake eating party was intended to highlight the problem of female circumcision, but how this is supposed to be done with a cake depicting a racist caricature of a black woman … is unclear,” said Kitimbwa Sabuni, head of the African Swedish National Association.

    ‘Bizarre situation’

    Adelsohn Liljeroth described the incident as a “bizarre situation”.

    “I was invited to speak at World Art Day about the freedom of art and the right to be provocative, and then they asked me to cut up the cake,” the minister said.

    “I had no chance to inspect the cake beforehand … If some people have been offended, I apologise. Then it’s up to the artist to explain what he meant with his work.”

    Linde said the message of his piece had been misunderstood.

    He has for several years used art to criticise stereotypes of black people and said that female genital mutilation as a choice of theme for the cake “was quite natural, as you would have to cut it up.”

    “I think the people who have been upset misunderstood the intention or the agenda of me as an artist,” he told Al Jazeera’s The Stream.

    Mariam Osman Sherifay of the Swedish Centre against Racism described the images of the minister as “deeply disturbing”, and said the art installation was “problematic”.

    “In Sweden, it seems to be comme il faut to caricature Africans in ways we could never imagine portraying other ethnic groups which have been persectuted: for example Jews, Romani or Saami people. Still in the 21th century we haven’t dealt with the stereotypical notions of Africans that seem to have been passed on by heredity in Swedish mentality.”

    Karin Olsson, culture editor of Swedish daily Expressen, wrote that the event appeared to be a “brilliant performance, in which the initially humourostic tone raised questions about power and colonial perspectives.

    “Of course it would have been easier to do as PR consultants and nervous press spokesmen probably would have recommended: politely decline cutting the cake, to avoid tough questions afterwards. But such sterile politicians, who never take a risk, are not wanted,” she wrote.

    The arts critic Dan Jonsson of the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter raised the possibility that Adelsohn Lijeroth had been “trapped”, and said that whatever the minister had chosen to do, it would have been “wrong”.

    “Either she’d been accused of being judgemental about artistic freedom, or to express racism,” he wrote. “If this is the case, it was a skillfully set trap.”

    Meanwhile, the museum was evacuated on Tuesday afternoon after a bomb threat over telephone from an English-speaking man accusing the institution of being “racist”.

    Police with sniffer dogs searched the building but nothing suspicious was found.

    With additional reporting by Al Jazeera’s Cajsa Wikstrom.

  • Free World View

    Swedish Girls should try FGM somewhere in Africa its an Individual choice anyway!
    Why not to have (start) a disscussion the Pros and cons of having or not having (Critoris) Remove it (or) stay with it?

  • unimpressed black woman

    The artist’s message to provoke did exactly that! and if he wanted us to applaud him……eh, no, sorry lad. you cannot romanticize FGM. fullstop!

  • Female genital mutilation is not a matter to laugh! His cry was fake and I think it was gross gross gross!. Please think of other intelligent intervention/campaign themes on FGM and Africans will be grateful for the suport on the campaign. This cake doent work for us. Girls being mutilated are young and beautiful and its always a sad situation. Please give us a break and stop making problems in Africa your art projects for cheap fame. Makode shame on you too!! You are ill informed. Minister and Modern Museum .. bad judgement! I am not talking about rasism here..

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