Swedish Culture Minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth Embroiled in Racist ‘Female Genital Mutilation Cake’ Outrage
Sweden’s culture minister has caused widespread outrage by participating in a “racist spectacle” involving a ‘female genital mutilation cake’ art exhibit.
According to The Local, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, culture minister since 2006, participated in an event marking World Art Day at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet on Sunday. One exhibit by artist Makode Aj Linde featured a cake shaped like a large black woman, in which the artist’s real head– painted in a blackface caricature of an African woman (even though Linde is a man)– screamed in agony as Liljeroth sunk a knife between the “woman’s” legs.
“Before cutting me up she whispered, ‘Your life will be better after this’ in my ear,” Linde claims the minister told him.
In addition to the issues of race and female circumcision, there is also an obvious element of cannibalism inherent in the installation.
The ‘female genital mutilation cake’ was meant to draw attention to a problem which affects more than 140 million women and girls in 28 African nations. But many Swedes of African origin and descent are outraged by what they are calling a “racist spectacle.”
“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.
“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.
Sabuni accused Liljeroth of “incompetence and lack of judgment.”
“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 told The Local.
“We have no confidence in her any longer.”
Liljeroth said she understood the anger she caused.
“I understand quite well that this is provocative and that it was a rather bizarre situation,” she told the TT news agency. “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.”
“Art needs to be provocative,” she added.
“Sweden thinks of itself as a place where racism is not a problem. That just provides cover for not discussing the issue which leads to incidents like this.”
According to Fria Tider, Liljeroth’s actions at the art event “stand in stark contrast” to her official hard-line position against racism. She has fought against public funding for racist newspapers, but Sunday’s event was also taxpayer-funded.
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