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.
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
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: