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Monthly Archives: January 2017
Japanese street artist 281_Anti Nuke brings the chant “NO TRUMP, NO KKK, NO FASCIST USA” to life. In the minimalist, geometric rendering, Trump is depicted with the same triangles used for the other to figures who flank him. To show just how similar Trump is to the KKK, he is only distinguished from by his overtanned orange face, poofy hair, and red tie. According to Japan Today, the artist has left the tag throughout the Shibuya neighborhood of Tokyo while the New Yorker notes that he has a cult following in the city.
The performance art trio of Shia LaBeouf, Säde Rönkkö and Luke Turner created a compelling protest installation that the artists intend to run for the length of Trump’s term in office. Launched on inauguration day, the piece centers around a camera mounted at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens beneath the title of the work. Visitors are encouraged to state “He Will Not Divide Us”, prompting one visitor to make the statement his mantra for over three hours. The camera’s feed can be viewed 24 hours a day at hewillnotdivide.us. Protest art is often blunt, which works effectively in this interactive and participatory work. The artists use every element of the piece – from the title, to the URL, to the installation lettering, and the words contributed by thousands of participants – to make a succinct statement of protest. Hopefully there will be other feeds in other cities so that others who are not in New York can also make their statement as part of the project.
Artist Ilma Gore and the artist collective INDECLINE have collaborated on a work made entirely out of human blood, entitled, “RISE UP THY YOUNG BLOOD”. This isn’t the first effort at Trump protest art by either artist; both Ilma Gore and INDECLINE have separately created works featuring a naked Trump. Nor is this the first time that blood has been used as a material for Trump protest art. The new 10′ by 15′ painting is a Trump-era take on the 1911 work, “Birth of the Flag”, by Henry Mosler. The 2017 update replaces Betsy Ross and a team of seamstresses with minorities. In an interview with Vice, Gore shares that she expects this will be the first of more Trump protest art yet to come.
A newly formed artists’ collective, dc2standingrock, uses the large letter style of mid-Century postcards to draw attention to the terrors of the Trump administration. Constructed in DC’s McPherson Square park, the site of the OccupyDC protest in 2011, the work was entirely initiated and completed on inauguration day. The wavy lettering, typical of vintage postcards, draws attentions to the countless problems of the Trump administration, from ties with Russia, to environmental degradation, to defunding Planned Parenthood. Measuring over 40 feet in length, the artists hope that it will remain as long as possible. After a painting in response to the Dakota Access Pipeline, this is only the second work of these talented and creative artists.
Connecticut-based artist Cara De Angelis, whose technique recasts traditional still life painting with roadkill and dead animals, has created a new Trump-focused work. While the entire series shows impressive technical skill, the use of roadkill seems especially appropriate for a Trump portrait and more fitting headware than his usual hairdo or red cap.
Norwegian painter Rolf Groven has portrayed Trump in a satirical work that might be explicit by some American standards. The painting, currently on display in an Oslo show, takes Trumps misogyny a step further by showing him molesting the Statue of Liberty, while Clinton and Obama (wearing a turban?) look out through prison bars below.
Renowned performance artist and feminist Martha Wilson has developed a new piece around Donald Trump. Although her politically related works have involved first ladies, Wilson said that Trump was too juicy a target to pass up. Wilson tells New York Observer that her performance aims for the intersection of “hilarious and the awful”, which is similar to a scene from Faulkner’s Absalom Absalom in which a character is raped with a corncob. Sounds about right for a Trump presidency.
While some artists have mobilized to raise their concerns with Ivanka, New York artist Richard Prince has taken this strategy a step further. Prince hasn’t just objected to Ivanka collecting his work, but has gone so far as to call a work of his a fake and return the money he received for making it. The New York Times considers whether this actually affects the value of the piece. Regardless of its impact on the work it is an important statement. Hopefully he will also create new art specifically decrying Trump.
This is not my work. I did not make it. I deny. I denounce. This fake art. pic.twitter.com/ouHJmVeF8C
— Richard Prince (@RichardPrince4) January 11, 2017
Dozens of artists and curators have announced that they will not work on January 20th in protest of Trump’s inauguration (This post has the most detailed roundup of which artists and institutions are participating). While organizing behind a cause and a unified message are important developments, it’s disappointing that this group hasn’t chosen a more effective tactic than a boycott. Rather than staging a do-nothing boycott these artists could make art.
Admittedly, it’s difficult to imagine some of the artists using their usual medium to make a convincing protest. Could Richard Serra make protest art that is specifically targeting Trump and his policies? Many of his works are disorienting in the way that a Trump presidency will be, but his art seems too abstract and non-figurative to clearly communicate an anti-Trump message (although I’d love to see him try).
Many contemporary artists, however, seem well-suited to design some great Trump protest art. This is especially the case with Barbara Kruger, who has previously made compelling anti-Trump art, but has signed up with the boycott and will not do anything on inauguration day. Her art is overt, typically with clearly worded messaging, and nearly always political. Why wouldn’t Kruger use the inauguration as an opportunity to make more anti-Trump art?
I don’t know if she’s offered an explanation, but I’m going to suggest one that might apply to Kruger and others who have made protest art in the past. Right now Kruger has large scale exhibitions in the Hirshhorn and National Gallery – possibly more art per square foot on the mall than any other artist in DC. These installations earned her and her gallery representation hundreds of thousands. Protest art, on the other hand, is not affiliated with any institution and would not pay much, if anything.
There’s also a risk in staging more protest art. Given how many museums rely on government funding, protest art that challenges the administration could be a liability for Kruger and other artists, as institutions would be less likely to work with her. Kruger has established herself as a blue chip artist so it may be easier to play it safe than risk her reputation and future shows by being prominently anti-Trump.
Maybe its just an issue of following the herd and Kruger has added her name as a sign of solidarity. Hopefully she will create more protest art, even if she does nothing on inauguration day.
Brian, a Toronto-based tattoo artist who goes by the name SEWP, has adapted Phillip Heller’s photo art into a stunning work on paper. By using the same detail for Trump’s cheeks that SEWP uses for tattoos, he emphasizes the most odious of Trump’s features, his mouth.