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Bjarne Melgaard and Gavin Brown Say “Racist Chair” is Nothing Compared to Global Warming

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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)

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Comments

  1. The real obscenity is that anyone can afford to sit in that chair.

  2. “Our tragedy is so evident in our daily experience that Melgaard has nothing left to portray but society in its utter decay.”

    really? as easy as pie this is, Bjarne, you might wanna think it through. necrophilia will kill you, if it hadn’t already. move into the production of life, as opposed to reproduction of death, will you?

  3. This statement by Bjarne Melgaard and Gavin Brown conveniently overlooks the inherent racism of global warming and climate change. First world, primarily caucasian cultures have caused and benefited by global warming to the detriment of people of color throughout the world. If we (I am a white American) were not able to exploit the resources of those less powerful than us, and use far more resources than they have access to, global warming would not be the crisis it is today.

    And what could be more racist or sexist than for the race and gender with the power to say that those issues are not true challenges?

  4. Why doesn’t Michelle Obama redecorate the White House and buy the entire collection of reracialized reproduced artworks by Melgaard. Photograph the entire Obama family sitting on them, then shoot it for a postage stamp for Black Herstory month.

  5. Unfortunately an example of offensive dumb art made by someone who uses their discription of themselves to be an excuse for naive gestures. Did I read somewhere he was homosexual ? Sorry if I’m wrong but it’s not a charter to make the audience indulge in your Work created as an excuse for insentisitivity toward others. People also roll out the terms like “gender roles and politics” as if its a phase in an academic paper without an experiential knowledge of the offence it may cause as most of the art world lives in a middle class bubble of ignorance dressed as worthyness. The work is ok to have a cause and effect but it’s only the article that has shone a light on the nature of the negative values that place the work in a critical context and while the work is able to exist to speak in its own right, I find the debate and attack on the work more value in terms of critical discourse than the actual work its self. Bring this into question was right. We all exist in a context of the moment and are actions and values should also in respect to the actions and values of those around us.

  6. I would also say don’t press send when you’re in a bar somewhere in the world and you’ve left typos in you’re statement and can’t edit on an iPad mini. I just don’t see how making work ‘after’ someone else and waiting for history and social to ‘kick in’ says its that important really and the issue of the offence (rightly), while is justified is amplified in its cause because the artwork itself is not standing up to this critical observation.

  7. What a load of horsesh*t. It’s like going up to Martin Luther King, and saying to his face “To continue to fault the race haters, 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.”

    Or to go to Jewish people and say “To continue to fault the concentration camp organizers, 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.”

    Or to go up to Native Americans and say “To continue to fault the Anglo-European caucasians, 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.”

    Or to go up to women and say “To fault the patriarchal misogynists, 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.”

    The current environmental issues are their own tragedy. This idiot Dasha Zukhova sitting on this chair for this picture and releasing it on MLK Day is a different tragedy. They are not the same tragedy, and it is just plain stupid to even draw any correlation whatsoever between the two.

  8. Luckily, we have assholes around to explain away and define our experiences. God bless the art world.

  9. Very predatory behavior for a human.

  10. This is a piss poor publicity stunt by an inhumane excuse for an artist.

  11. by Gerhart Strudel

    Best piece of racial furniture since the Nazi designed Jewish lampshades of the the 1940’s.
    Ha, Godwin’s rules! End of discussion.

  12. Michelle Kelly nailed it.

  13. by Menno de Guisepe

    Sure, Melgaard is concerned about the environment. But at the same time it‘s oil-rubles from Mrs. Abramovich that paid for his work.

    Besides, the work is largely made of “environmentally-friendly” plastic.

  14. Hello
    BM is now happy. Everybody are speaking about the global warming, enviroment, woman, race. He is a genius and achiving a good debate around it.

  15. by Menno de Guisepe

    @Helge

    Of course Melgaard is happy!

    When Zhukova planted her billionaire-ass on that chair and created a stir, Melgaard’s market value increased tenfold.

    There’s no such thing as bad publicity.

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