Fashion: Is this photo racist?


Since January 20, the partner of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, Dasha Zhukova has found herself in the eye of the storm.

In an interview published in Russian magazine Buro 24/7, Dasha Zhukova, who runs an art and fashion magazine, strikes a pose on a chair, which is not actually a chair – it is in fact a 32-year-old African woman. This ‘human chair’ is the work of artist Bjarne Melgaard, which was inspired by the work of ‘60s British artist Allen Jones. He is a Norwegian artist based in New York.

Although the work is also available in a ‘white woman’ version, the publication of this photo has reignited the debate on racism in fashion.

The interview was published on 20 January, Martin Luther King’s Day in the United States, a day commemorating a figure who fought against racial segregation. Some commentators have seen the irony in the coincidence.

Ms Zhukova told 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.

“I utterly abhor racism, and would like to apologize to anyone who has been offended by this image.”

A spokesman for Ms Zhukova added that the work of Melgaard “reinterprets art historical works from artist Allen Jones as a commentary on gender and racial politics”.

It is not the first time that fashion photographers have been accused of racism. A few months back, a campaign called Be My Slave came under fire from critics.

For now, the Russian site that published the photo has been cropped to not show the controversial seat, reports the Huffington Post.