Another look at the controversial Swedish genital mutilation cake situation:
I saw something powerful and heartbreaking unfold in this gallery. The celebrants and revelers at the exhibit were merely unwitting—but abundantly willing—performers in Linde’s play. The cake was not for their delight. The wails he let forth as the cake was cut into was not for their amusement. Linde wasn’t enjoying the moment, making light of a brutal history; indeed, his presence served to shame them, to shame them for partaking in something so distasteful as a cake representing the countless girls and women who have been brutalized. They should have been outraged. They should have been disgusted, haranguing for the cake and the artist to be removed immediately. But they weren’t. Rather than recoil in horror and outrage at the sight of such a cake or the sound of such screams, the men and women in attendance—The West—ate and chitchatted and snapped pictures of the spectacle. As Minister of Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth cut into the cake’s clitoris, she was prompted to whisper to Linde, “your life will be better after this.” And she did.
Ignoring the grotesquery they saw and heard before them, the crowd took what they wanted and passed it around the room. Linde and his cake were merely the exhibit writ large and delicious, treats that signaled an early Halloween and little else. There seemed to be so little reverence for the subject of the exhibit or the man crying out; if there was a stand taken, it has yet to be brought to light. The true outrage in this moment in this moment is not Linde’s cake or performance; it is that no one in that gallery rejected this as utterly reprehensible.
Plates at the ready and shame on standby, they took what they wanted from that enticing Black body, leaving nothing in return.
Now this is a very interesting interpretation of the whole thing. Honestly, when I originally came across his explanation, I thought that this is where he was going to go. It would make sense and it would redeem the work while reinforcing my earliest concerns, which were that a supposed ant-racist Minister of Culture would not see something horrible in cutting into a screaming cake shaped like a black woman.
Unfortunately, the artist didn’t offer anything close to this astute rationale. Instead, he preferred to argue that Swedish sensitivities are different to those of America.
Could it be that he missed the point of his own piece?