Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich’s girlfriend caused some Martin Luther King, Jr. Day outrage by having a photo taken as she sat in a chair fashioned as a lifelike, subservient, half-naked black woman.
The offensive image appeared on Miroslava Duma’s fashion website, Buro 24/7, and was used to illustrate a story about Dasha Zhukova, who is debuting a new magazine titled Garage.
The image shows Zhukova sitting on a chair created by Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard that is made of a very realistic mannequin of a black woman wearing S&M-styled rubber panties and hightop black boots. The black mannequin is lying on its back, legs in the air – the legs forming the back stiles of the chair – with the seat cushion sitting astride the back of its thighs. The mannequin’s realistic breasts are pressed provocatively against its legs. The mannequin’s head cranes upward, its face looking intensely at any person sitting upon it.
The “chair” is entirely provocative, suggesting overt sexuality, violence, and even enslavement.
The page the image was posted to on the fashion site immediately drew a host of critical comments. Twitter also erupted in a barrage of criticism of the website’s decision to use the photo on MLK Day, no less.
It wasn’t long before the website removed the photo and cropped it to remove the outrageous chair, leaving only the image of Zhukova.
Zhukova’s spokesperson was quick to condemn the website for using that particular photo on such a “sensitive day.”
Zhukova herself added, “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 apologize to anyone who has been offended by this image.”
Zhukova, 34, was born in Moscow, went to an exclusive day school in California as a child, attended the University of California, and hooked up with Russian billionaire Abramovich, bearing him two children. Abramovich is reportedly worth $14 billion and is known for a conspicuous living style.