Russian Socialite Sits On A Black Woman Bondage Chair…For Art

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Russian Socialite and Editor-in-Chief of Garage magazine, Dasha Zhukova, is currently on the Internet’s chopping block after this visually disturbing imagery.

The writer in me didn’t allow for an instant reaction of the image you see above. I immediately clicked on the link I found on Facebook from Fashion Bomb Daily so that I could be fully equipped with its backstory before developing my own sassy assessment.

After translating the original interview with Dasha Zhukova, I let my thoughts run wild like pesky untamed flyaways at the crown of my head. I looked at the image repeatedly. I even opened up my Photoshop and cropped out the serene and peaceful White woman who my eyes seemed to draw to and focused on the extremely life-like glossy dark-skinned Black mannequin aggressively attached to her buttocks.

I went back to read the article. It revealed that Dasha has a deep love and passion for investing in art projects. And the actual concept behind Garage Magazine is the fusion of fashion and art. But then as I continued to read the broken English my Google translation app tried to sell me (meaning I could barely understand what was written #GoogleFail), I got angry. It suddenly didn’t matter what the “reason” or “concept” was behind this visually degrading artwork.

I found issue with absolutely everything! This imagery is inspired by an artist, Allen Jones, who used White mannequins posed as strippers and displayed them as furniture in 1969. And while I have an issue with the chair simply rendering women as just objects–a piece of freaking furniture–it saddens me even more to know that Dasha selected a Black mannequin as her subject for this editorial.

I posted the image to my Instagram account–my favorite social media community where our conversations are visual and not limited to 140 characters. I wanted to see what women (both Black and White) felt about this…at first glance. I didn’t give any background about the imagery. Here’s what they said:

@cicelyvirginia I am bereft of ALL utterances right now. And the more deplorable part is that this black woman agreed to do this.

@mrskikidawn It’s a black model getting work. One minute folks complain that no black model are used then when they are you don’t like the content.

@cjackson1977 I haven’t taken the time to read the article yet, but as a white woman I find this in extremely poor taste, be it MLK day or any other day. I don’t have any context, but I can’t imagine there is any info I could glean from the article that would make this image OK. It’s 2014 and people should have better judgment.

@model_jellis This is not acceptable. No matter how you dress it. The tone of this piece is dated and offensive for every woman. Not to mention it’s not the most flattering piece of furniture. It would scare the hell out of me if I were a child. #dobetter

@sparkle_22 I saw this picture and didn’t even notice.

@mangopinacolada This chair also comes in white(woman).

I did chuckle at “this chair also comes in white.” But seriously, this is what we’re still doing in 2014?! The creative world (especially in France and Russia) has a history of dressing up racism as art. There was that time that French fashion magazine put a White model in blackface. And remember that time Numero Magazine apologized for its “African Queen” editorial. As if racism is this cute little Black porcelain doll the world likes to see for its own amusement.

But it’s not. Racism happened! It hurt. It still hurts.

As a fashion blogger/writer/reader/lover I’m just…fed up with this notion that racism is now art. I’m sick of writing about it. I’m now ready to talk about the solution. If there is one!

How does this image make you feel? What do you think is the solution?

UPDATE (8:45pm): I nearly did cartwheels when I got word from a fellow writer that the original image on Buro 24/7 had been altered. And to think, I almost didn’t take the time to write about this issue. But I knew I couldn’t stay silent anymore. I won’t take credit for the alteration but I will say thank you for reading and sharing!

For more, click here.

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