Disclaimer: All the intentions behind this cake, combined with the execution of the piece and the defenses of them are despicable. Taken as the artist intended ( as far as the public is aware), everything about this was poorly thought-out, ignorant, and racist as fuck.
Sometimes the most poignant art is accidental. The artist’s choices and intentions are used by the artwork itself to convey a different message than the artist intended. While I’m not sure if the artist necessarily deserves the credit for the message conveyed in these cases, this cake (for which I cannot find an actual title anywhere) is definitely an example of such an artwork. It says something concrete. It means something important.
It proves exactly how racist everyone who participated in it and everyone who sees it is.
That that woman could metaphorically cut up a screaming Black woman, others could eat the cake, people could laugh about it; that is the art. That is the meaning.
Makode Aj Linde may have made the piece with the intention of saying something else, but what it ended up being was a bunch of white people proving that they could happily participate in the murder and consumption of a shrieking Black body. It proved that the museum director and the curator saw no issue in allowing it to take place.
The appropriate reaction to being asked to cut that cake should have been one of horror. It should have struck a nerve. It should have been a devastating prospect. That representation of a body should have meant something, and it didn’t. Because, to the people laughing, eating, drinking, and defending; cutting up screaming Black bodies, especially stereotypically “African” bodies, doesn’t mean anything.
Makode Aj Linde accidentally made a perfect, poignant, inarguable display of the danger of internalized and “but I’m not a racist” racism. And it’s horrifying and crushing and awful but, most importantly, it’s reality.
I’m secretly still hoping this was his intention all along so it can be less of a display of internalized racism. Really really hoping. But then there’s still a level of using the image of a Black woman’s body and blackface to prove a point that is dehumanizing and exploitative. I doubt the intentions of everyone who helped this happen are in any way respectable.
As it stands, art > artist. Anyone who thinks the Swedish Minister of Culture wasn’t displaying racism is a danger to those around them.
Here are a few links to add to the discussion
The artist interviewed about his intentions with the piece (video)