Cartoon stereotyped circumcision cake designed by black Swedish artist Makode Linde, freedom of art speech or stereotype reinforcement?
Sweden's culture minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth on Saturday April 14, 2012 during an art exhibit cut up a cake baked into the shape of a cartoon stereotyped African woman.
The incident involving Liljeroth happened at the Moderna Museet Museum in Stockholm in honor of World Art Day. According to the cakes artist Makode Linde, who is black Swede born in Stockholm, said the cake was misunderstood. The cake was supposed to highlight the issue of female circumcision.
The cake was in the shape of the naked upper body of a very black African woman filled with a blood-red sponge cake. Linde painted his own face black with wide red lips outlined in white dotted with sharp crooked white teeth. Linde used his own head complete with dreadlocks, in place of the cakes head. With each slice of cake, Linde would scream in mock pain to simulate the pain of girls who undergo female circumcision.
The Association for African Swedes said it was a crude racist caricature. Kitimbwa Sabuni, a spokesperson for the Association for African Swedes, said, "To say that you did this for a good cause only makes the mockery of people who are victims of racism and of circumcision worse."
Liljeroth said, "It was a bizarre situation. I was invited to speak at World Art Day about the freedom of art and the right to be provocative, and then they asked me to cut up the cake."
Liljeroth served as Sweden’s Minister for Culture from October 2006 until October 2014. The current culture minister of Sweden is Alice Bah Kuhnke who grew up in Småland, Sweden with her Gambian father and Swedish mother.