Russian gallerist sparks race row over "overtly degrading" chair

Russian gallerist sparks race row over "overtly degrading" chair

News: Russian socialite and gallerist Dasha Zukhova has sparked a racism row after a photograph of her sitting on a chair in the form of an inverted semi-naked black woman appeared alongside an interview on a Russian website.

The photograph, which originally appeared on Buro247, was later cropped by the publication to remove the chair but not before it had circulated widely, sparking furore.

FashionBombDaily editor Claire Sulmers, who broke the story, described the image as an example of "white dominance and superiority, articulated in a seemingly serene yet overtly degrading way."

Russian gallerist sparks race row over "overtly degrading" chair
This image: Zhukova sits on Allen Jones Remake by Bjarne Melgaard, 2013. Main image: Dasha Zhukova portrait published in Buro247

"We can't help but be filled with anger and frustration over the onslaught of negative imagery, constant disregard and unabashed bigotry that continues to plague the fashion industry," wrote Huffington Post's Julee Wilson.

The timing of the interview, which was published on Martin Luther King Day, added to the furore.

Russian gallerist sparks race row over "overtly degrading" chair
Allen Jones Remake by Bjarne Melgaard in Gang Bust exhibition at Venus Over Manhattan, New York, 2013

Zukhova defended the image in a statement, saying: "This photograph, which has been published completely out of context, is of an art work intended specifically as a commentary on gender and racial politics. I utterly abhor racism, and would like to apologise to anyone who has been offended by this image."

The chair - an example of forniphilia or human furniture - was created by Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard and is one of a series of interpretations of pieces originally created by British pop artist Allen Jones in 1969.

Russian gallerist sparks race row over "overtly degrading" chair
The original chair by Allen Jones, 1969

Jones created a series of three artworks called Hatstand, Table and Chair featuring white, female fibreglass mannequins. The first is standing with arms outstretched; the second crouching on all fours with a pane of glass on her back; and the third lying on the floor with her legs strapped to her chest and a cushion balanced on her thighs.

Last year, Melgaard presented Allen Jones Remake, an interpretation of Jones' work featuring black mannequins, at an exhibition called Gang Bust at Venus Over Manhattan gallery in New York.

Russian gallerist sparks race row over "overtly degrading" chair
Korova Milk Bar in Stanley Kubrick's 1971 film A Clockwork Orange

Jones' pieces were also interpreted in Stanley Kubrick's 1971 film A Clockwork Orange, where forniphilic tables and milk dispensers furnish the Korova Milk Bar. Jones allegedly turned down Kubrick's offer to design the bar for free, forcing Kubrick to commission derivative designs.

Zukhova is girlfriend of Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovic and owner of the Garage gallery in Moscow, which is being designed by Rem Koolhaas of OMA. Buro247 is owned by her friend Miroslava Duma.