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Vandals sprayed white paint on a sculpture of a Black woman. Hundreds of people showed up to clean it

<i>Lineker Photography/@lineker_photography</i><br/>Tschabalala Self's
Lineker Photography/@lineker_photography
Tschabalala Self's "Seated

By Gareth Harris

Hundreds of people helped clean and restore a sculpture of a seated Black woman by the US artist Tschabalala Self, which was vandalized on May 15.

The ten-foot-tall bronze work entitled “Seated,” from 2022 — which has been temporarily installed outside the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea on England’s south coast (until October 29) — was defaced when “the perpetrator covered the entirety of the woman’s skin with white spray paint,” according to a statement from the pavilion. Volunteers were invited to “help remove the paint and bring the community together in an act of peaceful resistance.”

A pavilion spokesperson said that around 300 people subsequently attended. “We had to extend the event to make sure everyone who had been queuing could participate due to the high turnout,” the spokesperson said. Seated will continue to be restored professionally and will re-open on June 3.

In a statement posted to Instagram, Self said: “I am very disheartened that my sculpture ‘Seated’ was targeted and attacked by vandals. Despite my disappointment I am not surprised as Black, female — and especially 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 color and, in my mind, her strength.”

She added: “I hope that the violence enacted on the sculpture illuminates the persistent issues plaguing the global West. Painting the skin of my sculpture white is an obscene act and I feel horribly for individuals in Bexhill-on-Sea for whom this event may have shocked or frightened.”

“Seated” was commissioned by the company Avant Arte and produced by the Madrid-based studio Factum Arte.

In a 2020 interview with The Art Newspaper, Self discussed her distinctive works depicting Black and predominantly female figures, which correspondent Louisa Buck wrote both “embrace and confound collective fantasies and assumptions surrounding the Black female body.”

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