On the day the country was reflecting on civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., an online magazine chose to publish an article with a photo of a Russian socialite sitting on a chair with a Black woman underneath dressed in bondage. The photo sparked heated online backlash before it was replaced with a cropped version, where only the legs are visible. The photo was also removed from Instagram as well, following a slew of complaints from the masses, according to The London Evening Standard.
The White woman sitting on the Black woman chair is Russian socialite and editor–in-chief of Garage Magazine, Dasha Zhukova. The realistic-looking Black woman is actually a mannequin. It is half nude, except for black panties, a garter belt, elbow-length black gloves and knee-high boots. Her folded knees are pushing her naked breasts against her body.
Zhukova, on the other hand, sits perched atop the Black woman dressed in a white top and jeans, as she blankly stares into the camera.
Many who viewed the photograph felt it was a definite racist representation of White superiority. The Black woman depicted as an inanimate object used to service the White dominant female is unarguably demeaning, disgraceful and reminiscent of the degradation Black women have endured over decades.
But unfortunately, not everyone sees this “work of art” as racist. Zhukova, who claims she “abhors racism,” defends the photograph. “This photograph, which has been published completely out of context, is of an artwork intended specifically as a commentary on gender and racial politics,” she said. “I utterly abhor racism, and would like to apologize to anyone who has been offended by this image.”
The group, Organizing for Women’s Liberation, who staunchly believe that the objectification of women is never an acceptable practice, also joined in the throngs of criticisms over the photo after it made its way across the net.
The artist who created the original chair, Allen Jones, designed it in 1969 and used a White woman. Allen’s design collection also included a table and hat stand. Now 76-years-old, Allen, who has been accused of being a misogynist, told The London Evening Standard he created the series of body art furniture to show that the human form could be “functional.”