by Shannon Touchstone, Managing Editor
Does this picture offend you? It shouldn’t. Dasha Zhukova, editor-in-chief of Garage magazine, set off alarms when she appeared sitting on a chair, sculpted and painted in the form of a ‘black woman.’ So often, the general public feigns outrage at an artist because they perceive that there is a flaw, which is prevalent throughout society, in the artist’s work. In Dasha Zhukova’s case, the perceived flaw is racism.
Art and fashion professionals should have had a different perception, one influenced by the works of Helmut Newton and Robert Mapplethorpe. The works of these master photographers provide context, and context is everything.
It wasn’t long ago that the public became outraged at seeing Nick Knight’s stunning portrait of Kate Moss, seemingly painted black, on the cover of The Independent. The entire issue was dedicated to the fight against AIDS in Africa. It was meant as a declaration of solidarity. This fact didn’t register with the public.
It’s now time to put the current controversy surrounding Dasha Zhukova into its proper context. The chair, sculpted by Bjarne Melgaard, was a re-interpretation of the work of 60’s pop artist, Allen Jones. The only difference, and apparently quite important to pop culture, is that Melgaard’s chair depicts a dark skinned woman.
Let’s put race and art aside. In the world of BDSM, is it not possible that a black woman would want to assume a submissive role to another individual? More than likely, it’s happening in real life, right now, as you’re reading this article. Someone, who is perhaps dark skinned, is willingly consenting to a submissive role for pleasure.
Get over it.
Ms. Zhukova, if you decide that the burden of owning the chair is too great, I’ll gladly take it as a gift. P.S., I’m a fan. If you’re ever in my neck of the woods, stop by and say, “Hi!”