Last week Monday, vandals defaced New York-based artist Tschabalala Self’s “Seated” (2022), a 10-foot tall public sculpture of a seated Black woman facing the sea off the coast of Southern England.
The bronze sculpture currently located on the lawn outside the De La Warr Pavilion (DLWP), an arts center in Bexhill-on-Sea was spray-painted white from head to toe. On the following Sunday over 300 locals turned up with scrubbing brushes and white spirit to restore the installation to its original state.
“Many have derived joy from Seated, and through community support she will be restored to her former likeness. 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.“
Tschabalala Self’s work explores the importance of the Black female body in modern culture. Self experiments with how blackness, and otherness, is constructed—her construction of these figures becoming a powerful metaphor—and how it is projected in both popular culture and high art.
Seated is set to go back on view to the public in Bexhill-on-Sea starting on June 3 following a restoration.