Gangsters, cake and racism

Today’s post continues on the topic of gangsters and goes on to deal with racist cake.

We’ll start with this.


Looks like someone’s been watching Star Trek.

What will this mean for the future of live performances? Would you go to see a hologram of an artist perform? And if you could “wake up” an artist from the dead to see them “perform” like this, who would you choose? The questions, as well as the possibilities, are endless.

Now onto a less cool thing.

Tupac and Snoop are big fans of the n-word. In Sweden a big racism debate has been sparked after the Minister of Culture, Lena Adelsohn, as part of a performance cut into the supposed genital area of a cake in the shape of a stereotypical African tribes woman. The blood red sponge cake’s creator, Makode Linde, was posing as its blacked up head, screaming each time it was cut.

The piece, a birthday cake to the Swedish Artists’ National Organisation celebrating its 75th anniversary at Stockholm Museum of Modern Art, was part of Linde’s art series that, according to himself, deals with racism in Sweden. The theme of the event itself was freedom of expression and the cake was there to provoke and challenge what art can do and say.

In yesterday’s The Guardian, National Afro Swede Association demanded the Minister’s resignation, naming this incident as only one piece of evidence of how racist Sweden actually is. “Racist is becoming the norm in Sweden,” Jallow Momodou said. Read the whole thing here.

Ideas that, together with the current trial in neighbouring country Norway as well as recent films like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo bringing up right wing extremists, paint a rather different picture of the Scandinavian country many Brits still associate with ABBA and flatpacked furniture.

Since the news of the racist cake, Adelsohn yesterday explained herself with this letter.

The very fact that her actions have been interpreted as racist, she says is highly regrettable, adding they were intended to have the exact opposite effect. Momodou however, claims racism is becoming a joke in Sweden.

Now that even the European Network Against Racism has stepped in and asked the Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt to distance himself from the incident, it will be hard for him, or any Swede, to just shake the whole thing off with a laugh.

As a Swede myself I find the whole thing shocking, disturbing and utterly confusing. I am all for art being free and I agree that it should be allowed to provoke and make its viewers feel uncomfortable in order to make them think. But when it makes the Minister of Culture take part in a performance where she laughingly mutilates a black woman, be it a cake or not, I must say I get a very foul taste in my mouth. Had I been made to taste, I’m pretty sure I would have spat the whole thing out.

See the New York Time’s interview with artist Linde here:

SpectraSpeaks (@spectraspeaks) said a clever thing on Twitter today:

“Too many people spend time criticizing art for being provocative, when we really should be discussing the feelings provoked.”

How did this make you feel?

Categories: Music

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5 replies »

  1. Having discussed the topic with friends, I want to say that I would like to think that Sweden is not a racist country but lately there has been a lot of stuff going on that needs to be dealt with. Maybe it is good that the debate has been raised. Maybe it will see a healthy discussion and a serious outcome to actually start dealing with stuff rather than shaking things off and keep patting ourselves on the back for being such a “neutral” and “politically correct” country.

  2. To a certain extent, the intent of the artist has succeeded – the video has gone viral and it’s made a lot of people uncomfortable. Being provocative however, is one thing. Actually creating ‘good’ art is another. It reminds me of the Danish cartoons of Mohammed – of course they should be ‘permitted’ to publish them, it’s just they weren’t funny or thought-provoking.

    • Very good point, Simon! I definitely agree on the similarities to the Mohammed cartoons.
      Thanks to this cake, people have, as you said, felt uncomfortable and many have questioned what art should be allowed to do or say, which on the whole is good. I’m not sure, however, that people will question themselves in the way the artist possible intended, asking themselves what thoughts they have when they see the image and why and possibly what that says about society today. On the other hand I think that maybe Momodou’s letter in The Guardian may be an eye-opener to many and with that being a response to the piece, I guess the cake has had some positive effect after all.
      Sorry for the late reply, I have had some laptop related issues…

  3. Fin blog bella!
    Du e riktigt duktig! =)
    Hoppas du hade en trevlig pask!
    Katia (manchester)

    • Hej Katia,
      Tack! Kul att höra från dig! Påsken var mysig tack, hur var din? Lägg gärna till mig på Facebook/Twitter om du vill :)

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