Quick Hit: Racist Chairs. Art isn’t an excuse.

Recently, Buro 24/7, released an interview with the Russian editor-in-chief of Garage magazine, Dasha Zhukova  attached to a highly controversial photograph. In the photo, Zhukova is sitting on a chair sculpted to look like a contorted and mostly naked black woman. And while this situation sounds terrible on its own, things were only made worse by the fact that the photo was published on MLK Day. An online parade of critics were swift in condemning the artwork as undoubtedly racist and I have to agree.

Image
Dasha Zhukova sitting on racist chair sculpture by Bjarne Melgaard.
From styleite.com

 

Though some are claiming the chair is a piece of art meant to challenge racism, (it should be noted that the chair is a throwback to Allen Jone’s chair featuring a white woman) I would argue that we cannot ignore the racial implications of the sculpture when considering it as a piece of furniture or the way in which the photo at hand sends a profoundly racist message about who gets to be on top in this world. This picture has white dominance written all over it and I stand with all those wanting to hold the world of fashion accountable. We cannot continue to allow claims of creativity to erase blatant examples of racism and sexism (I find it no coincidence that there is no male version of this chair). 

Buro 24/7 and Zhukova, have apologized with excuses ranging from, “We value diversity” to “The chair was taken out of context”, but I for one would prefer if they would just stop being racist. What do you all think? Is this racism disguising itself as art, or is it just a chair?

 

 

4 thoughts on “Quick Hit: Racist Chairs. Art isn’t an excuse.

  1. wait so if it was a white woman it would be ok? I think you are the racist one in this situation

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    1. You’re assuming a scenario that isn’t true. The fact is that it is a black woman. I noted the problematic issues related to sexism in regards to the earlier chair featuring the white woman but white people have not been historically and systematically oppressed because of their race therefor I would not call it racist. You aren’t going to see pictures of black people sitting on white chairs because white people aren’t oppressed.

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  2. I don’t know the artist’s intentions, but, to me, the chair makes a statement about oppression. It exists, so what are we doing as a society to confront it? Acknowledging it is an important aspect of changing what don’t like, and defining what shouldn’t be acceptable (even when it should be obvious). This photo should disturb us, although it was in extremely poor taste to publish it on MLK day. But regardless of what was originally meant by this photograph, we should look at our reactions to it and why we feel so strongly about the image. It would be more of a problem if we saw this and thought of it as normal, or nothing to get upset about. We have to challenge the norms in the images we see on a daily basis.

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  3. The fact that it’s a CHAIR is disgusting, making art about oppression is one thing, but creating a piece of furniture that socializes a “scene” into your house or where ever it will end up only promotes an artifact of normativity. Artifacts influence how we view things, not create dissonance among thoughts or perceptions. When people see this chair it’ll only frame oppression as a physical tool, not as thought provoking movement for change.

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