Updated Tuesday, Jan. 21, 1:30 p.m. EST: Dasha Zhukova, the Garage magazine editor-in-chief who came under fire for sitting on a very realistic "black woman chair," has issued an apology for the photo, saying that it was taken out of context, according to the London Evening Standard.
“This photograph, which has been published completely out of context, is of an artwork intended specifically as a commentary on gender and racial politics," said the 32-year-old, who is the partner of Russian billionare Roman Abramovich. “I utterly abhor racism and would like to apologize to anyone who has been offended by this image.”
A spokesman for Zhukova said that the artwork, which belongs to Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard, is from a series that “reinterprets art historical works from artist Allen Jones as a commentary on gender and racial politics.”
Online magazine Buro 247 published a story on Monday featuring Garage magazine's Russian editor-in-chief, Dasha Zhukova. The problem? Zhukova was posed on a chair that was designed to look like a half-naked black woman.
According to the Huffington Post, Buro 247 quickly got the message and altered the image, cropping the photo on the website to show only Zhukova and not the chair—a little too late in this world of high-speed Internet and instant communication, however.
Claire Sulmers, the editor of FashionBombDaily.com, who first told the Huffington Post about the outrageous piece, called it an example of "white dominance and superiority, articulated in a seemingly serene yet overtly degrading way."
Sulmers told HuffPo that the chair (which also comes in "white woman") is possibly inspired by British pop artist Allen Jones' 1969 collection; however, she stands firm that this use of a black woman's image hits deep.
"The art and fashion industries are the few bastions of society where blatant racism and ignorance are given the green light in the name of creativity," Sulmers said.
The most poignant thing about the photo is that it is a very accurate depiction of how black women (and black people in general) are treated in the fashion industry. It is common knowledge that the industry is racist, with few models of color and even fewer opportunities for those models.
Just last year, in November, French Elle Beauty Editor Jeanne Deroo faced tremendous backlash forwearing blackface when she attended a party, supposedly as Solange Knowles.
Needless to say, the image also brewed up a virtual storm on Twitter.
Is it really that hard to be creative without being racist and insensitive? Apparently.