While Dasha Zhukova was all apologies yesterday concerning what some observers have dubbed the “Racist Chair” fiasco—in which Russian socialite and arts patron Zhukova was pictured on Russian fashion website Buro 24/7 sitting atop a Bjarne Melgaard sculpture of a black woman trussed up to form the shape of a chair—Melgaard and his dealer, Gavin Brown, are taking a different tack. In a statement sent to ARTINFO today, the pair called the photo of Zhukova “extraordinary” and said they “applaud both the sitter and the seated.” The duo goes on to say, “To fault the sitter, now in the age of the Anthroposcene, in the midst of extraordinary and REAL obscenities that threaten our actual existence, reflects a civilization that is not dying but already dead.” But while at least one critic has argued that the controversy is ridiculous, it may be that big words like Anthroposcene (an informal term for a new geologic epoch brought on by global warming) won’t stop some from being bothered by a really rich white lady posed for a glamour shot on top of a racially charged artwork that was published on MLK day.
Read the full statement below:
These Bjarne Melgaard’s sculptures, based on the Allen Jones originals, exist to destabilize and unhinge our hardened and crusty notions of race and sex and power. These sculptures, made by a self professed ‘homosexual’, expose the latent and residual self hatred in a culture where the inhuman and overpowering presence of violence and catastrophe is imminent. Our tragedy is so evident in our daily experience that Melgaard has nothing left to portray but society in its utter decay. We see this photograph to be extraordinary. We see this debate to be a distraction from the true challenges that face us. We applaud both the sitter and the seated. To fault the sitter, now in the age of the Anthropocene, in the midst of enormous and REAL obscenities that threaten our actual existence, reflects a civilization that is not dying but already dead. Turn your outrage upside down.
— Ashton Cooper (ashton_cooper)
(Photo: Bjarne Melgaard, ‘Allen Jones Remakes (detail table)’, 2013. Mixed media, 147.3 x 76.2 x 66 cm / Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac)