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Russian Socialite and Editor-in-Chief of Garage magazine, Dasha Zhukova, is coming under fire for a recent interview she gave to artist Miroslava Duma’s online pub Buro 247. While the content of the interview isn’t offensive—the pair discusses the Zhukova’s magazine, fashion, and collecting Russian art—the images accompanying the story have many crying foul.

Zhukova, who is described by Wikipedia as a “celebutante, philanthropist, and entrepreneur,” sits calmly atop a chair supported by a nearly naked, extremely life-like black female mannequin, who strains to support her. The image is jarring, upsetting and very offensive.

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Allen Jones’ Hatstand, Table and Chair (1969)

The crude piece seems to be inspired by a collection by artist Allen Jones who used White mannequins styled as strippers and used as furniture in 1969. The pieces objectify women and literally renders them as nothing more than objects. However, the chair Zhukova chose to be photographed on for her interview was even more troubling considering the long history of White women partaking in the dismissal and domination of Black women and our bodies.

Miroslava Duma posted the image of a smiling Zhukova sitting on a naked Black female mannequin to her Instagram account and was immediately bombarded with criticism. Duma has since removed the image, but it remains on the Buro 247 site along with Zhukova’s interview.

The creative world has a long history of objectifying women of color (and our skin) and calling it art. Whether it’s a magazine painting White models in blackface and dressing them in “ethnic” clothing, or the macabre “Painful Cake” that encouraged viewers to cut a slice of an African’s woman’s body while she screamed in pain, the art world is one of the last places in our society where blatantly offensive pieces are celebrated as “innovative” and “groundbreaking.”

While Duma and Zhukova will almost certainly issue an apology, probably feigning ignorance about racism because they are Russian (which does not give them a pass, by the way), I’m trying to wrap my brain around why they felt this was a good idea, or a worthwhile piece of “art” in the first place.

H/T Rachel Stewart

UPDATE:

Looks like the Buro 247 site caved to the outrage…sorta. After a slew of negative comments and blog posts around the web, the site cropped out the Black mannequin in the image, and now shows Dasha Zhukova sitting on a chair made of a woman’s legs. Peep it:

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35 Comments

  1. Its difficult for me to respect the art world when this crap keeps happening. Its obvious that that this is just an expression of hatred and calling it artistic. People need to stop giving everything a free pass just because the creator say “ART” or “JOKE” and use their brains.

  2. She wasn’t even orginal with her idea.

  3. So yes, the image is offensive. Everyone here is talking about it, and talking about how horrible racism is. If the artist’s intention was to draw attention to racism and sexism – Mission accomplished?!

    Why is everyone saying that the image is bad? Racism is bad, not just the first artist or piece of art who reminds you that racism still exists and is still a problem!

    Similarly the other piece “Painful Cake” isn’t saying that it’s right that white people have been carving up the natural resources of Africa and abusing people of African descent, rather the image is grotesque.

    You need to stop shooting the messenger, and start doing something about the message. If you’re offended then good, because racism is offensive, but don’t take an obvious attempt to subvert racist culture as racism itself >>

  4. Okay so you show the entire Allen Jones collection UNCROPPED, but when it comes to this recent copy of his work, you crop it.

    So are we now saying that White women can take the offense but Black women can’t?

    I find both to be very distasteful and I would think that ALL women would be offended at this mess. But leave it to mainstream media to make racial distinctions.

    • My thoughts exactly. If she had a white girl holding her up it wouldn’t be seen as racist, just distasteful, but now that its a black girl, OMG RACISM! This whole article is racist and accusatory. In both, I see art, distasteful or not.

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