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Sculpture Of Black Woman By Tschabalala Self In England Vandalized With White Paint

A 10-foot sculpture of a seated woman by artist Tschabalala Self was vandalized with white spray paint last week.

The vandalism act occurred on May 15, when some unknown perpetrators entered the park and spraypainted the statue, which is titled ‘Seated’, with white paint. While the incident was not immediately covered, over the weekend it went viral via social media. Many alleged that this act was motivated by racist, misogynistic, and white supremacist intentions.

Volunteers cleaning the sculpture

When Tschabalala Self was informed of the incident, she related it to the wider racism and misogyny in the world: “Despite my disappointment I am not surprised as Black and Female—and especially because Black Female bodies are often targets for abuse. Seated proudly represents the beauty of both blackness and femininity, and for these very reasons she has been harmed: covered by her assailant with white spray paint in a futile attempt to erase her colour and, in my mind, her strength.”

Tschabalala Self is well-known for depicting Black women in her artworks as means to empower them. Seated (2022) first appeared at King’s Cross Station in London last year. Speaking at the time, Self said: “Taking a seat is a universal act of leisure and calm. I wanted to create a monumental sculpture for the public that spoke to this simple joy. The woman is strong, beautiful and self-possessed. She represents all individuals, but women in particular, who understand the power and importance of simple gestures that assert their right to take up space.” Right now, it is exhibited at De la Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea.

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Over the weekend, as word spread, local volunteers and BLM activists alike arrived at the spot. Through tedious, communal efforts, much of the statue was cleaned and restored. It would take a few more days before experts would give the final touches and ensure that no lasting damages were made to the sculpture.