Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Spoilt Freedom in the Name of Arts

I hope everybody read/watched/heard about the outcry over CakeGate in Sweden. I have been/am one of art-illiterates who were revolted, insulted by such a crude, racist and so called art installation held at Moderna Museet in Stockholm on April 15th, 2012 to raise 'awareness' about the female genital mutilation (FGM). Hmm, some of you may wonder where the hell I have been all these days since this issue has been in the spotlight for the past few weeks. Well, I just wanted to strip-off my racial, emotional baggage against this 'provocative art', compose myself and take my time to think reasonably and logically to comprehend the intent of this installation before I jump into any 'shallow' interpretation. Sorry, it didn't work folks, and it will never work no matter how much I attempt to detach my racial and emotional background from this sensitive subject. For me, this situation looked like sadomasochistic, cannibalistic fetish staged at the expense of one of the most painful and horrific practices in which millions of girls/women had/have to go through in some parts of Africa and some Middle-Eastern countries.
I relate myself on different levels to this practice.
For a starter, I know how painful circumcision is because it was done on me when I was 6-7 yeras old, but I still remember vividly the agony I had to go through: bed-ridden and having hard time urinating for a number of weeks. Nevertheless, my experience was under no circumstance equal to sufferings and consequences of FGM practices on girls/women. 
Well, it's Sweden, and art should be ''provocative'' but not censored. So, a certain bi-racial (with Swedish mother & West-African father) male 'artist' who, I guess, wasn't circumcised (I doubt his mom would allow this practice), neither seen FGM nor met its victims, decided or, should I say, was approached by Moderna Museet, which was celebrating its 75th anniversary, to produce some provocative 'art'. So, Makode Aj Linde – who clearly derives inspiration for his aestheticism from American minstrel show, the show that undoubtedly played the biggest role in spreading racist stereotypes about people with African descent who have been caricatured in various degrading manifestations with pitch black faces and obscure grins all around the globe – made a decision to 'make a point' about 'black identity' on behalf of his one 'half' to his other 'half'. Interestingly, none of his other 'halves' – many of whom were victims of this horrific practice (FGM) – were at the scene while he and his other privileged 'halves' were making a mockery about FGM, including the Swedish culture minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, who was leading the gruesome event, laughing together with other blushed faces, snapping photos and gorging themselves with bloody, red velvet cake. It was really sickening and appalling to witness the performer's and his audience’s apathy and lack of sensitivity towards such a grotesque, macabre performance. Never mind, neither of the parties have seen FGM or met its victims. I'm 110% sure that had anyone from the audience been a victims of FGM, they wouldn’t have touched that cake, let alone devoured on it asking for more. Do I make a rushed generalisation? Hell no, because I will tell you another FGM-related personal experience. I remember once when I was working for Ethiopian Television, I was forced to make a report about FGM with male video-editors because none of their female counterparts were willing, as many of them couldn't help but have a nervous breakdown watching those little girls being paraded for the genital mutilation ritual. We sent that segment to CNN to be aired but it wasn't broadcasted due to graphic and disturbing images. Hmm, well, in liberal Sweden, people can make 'provocative art', crack jokes and have fun about it. 
Read Makode’s reaction about his exhibition on his Facebook wall, and make your own judgment about the seriousness of this 'art' installation and the 'cause' he wanted to raise 'awareness' about.
This is after getting my vagaga mutilated by the minister of culture, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth. Before cutting me up she whispered ‘Your life will be better after this’ in my ear.
This whole scenario reminds me of a south African woman called Sarah Baartman, who was displayed as a freak due to her unusual physical features to Londoners and Parisians. She died at the age of 25 in 1815 due to abuse of her body and foreign culture but sadly her death didn't stop her European admirers to objectify her African image: after removing her brain and genitals, they pickled them and displayed in bottles at the Musee de l’Homme in Paris. Sarah Baartman's body had finally been returned to her native country and laid to rest in 2002, 187 years after she left Cape Town for London. Have you seen the parallel? In Sweden's case, it was a 'provocative' cake, a stereotyped caricature of African woman installed by a 'black' Afro-Swedish 'artist'.  I will depart with the following angry comment posted on YouTube which has a good relevance to this failed 'awareness creation' 'art' made at the expense of fellow human beings. 
I might comment in a very emotional point of view, but considering the common sense and rationality of my perception, this is execution of art is sick and not only biased but failure. It is not an art but 'art' is the concept which is being used to defend purely racist and killer perspective. Very well said! How this m#*on can perceive this as 'art' is beyond me! This guy doesn't give a damn about the plight of the victims of FGM, he just wanted a shot at fame and notoriety, and he achieved this, but if he thinks this will make him the next Damian Hurst......EPIC FAIL!” 

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