More specifically, the curly-haired mannequin is naked, S&M-style bound (back to the floor) and used as a chair for Russian socialite and Garage Magazine editor-in-chief Dasha Zhukova.
It didn’t take long for the photo, first published to Buro 24/7 on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, to incite a fit of outrage among the Black community, who called the chair insensitive and racist. The site later cropped chair out of the image to just show Zhukova and issued an apology:
“Buro 24/7 is categorically opposed to the idea of racism, oppression or humiliation of people in any form. We see this chair purely in an artistic context. We apologise to all our readers who were offended by these photographs.”
Zhukova also voiced her PR-constructed thoughts on the matter:
“The chair pictured in the Buro 24/7 website interview is an artwork created by Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard, one of a series that reinterprets art historical works from artist Allen Jones as a commentary on gender and racial politics. Its use in this photo shoot is regrettable as it took the artwork totally out of its intended context, particularly given that Buro 24/7′s release of the article coincided with the important celebration of the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I regret allowing an artwork with such charged meaning to be used in this context. I utterly abhor racism and would like to apologize to those offended by my participation in this shoot. Garage Magazine has a strong track record of promoting diversity and racial and gender equality in the worlds of art and fashion, and will continue in our mission to stir positive debate on these and other issues.”
Many commenters in defense of the artist explained that there’s a white woman version of the chair, and the artists simply push boundaries like this in the name of conversation. But what can be gained from a piece of artwork like this? Does the chair–depicting a black woman as a naked, defenseless being–stir any type of positive commentary? Beauties, share your thoughts.