Donald Trump rouses emotions in everyone whether that emotion is hatred or love – he brings it out in us. He plasters his face everywhere as he competes for the presidential bid, it’s no surprise that his image has, whether we like it or not, reached a new degree of iconic status. Self-promoting, self-aggrandizing, completely oblivious to his incendiary effect and offensive comments, the man is a perfect personality to toss into the giant media mechanism and get clicks from the social media sphere. Here we are clicking in 2015, whether to celebrate or to scorn, on the face of a man who seemed to have hit his prime in the greed-celebrating 1980s. I must admit it myself, a video meme of him saying the word “China” is probably the funniest thing I’ve seen in a while. The art world has picked up on this also, giving us a variety of impressions of the Trump face, whether pasted on a pile of poo, inserted into Munch’s “The Scream” or creepily animated in video, he represents a facet of the American personality.
To see his face staring out at us like modern fine art is a funny thing. Take the piece Trump doesn’t exist, by Blue & Joy, where 561 Post It notes are inscribed with the same number of quotes from Trump. Up close we read some lines with that enigmatic personality that shines through: “I don’t like losers”, “I never get tired of winning”, “I really understand beauty”, “I do great with evangelicals”, “the worst of times create the best opportunities”, “I don’t want people to know what my plan is”, “You are only defeated when you accept defeat”. When you step far away from the piece and view it through your camera phone, it takes the shape of Trump’s eyes staring at you. His aggressive and sarcastic attitude leads to the creation of aggressive and sarcastic artwork, like Trump doesn’t exist, now showing at Galleria CA D’ORO. Artists are regurgitating the media imagery to re-appropriate the vision of a truly ridiculous character who just might be the new leader of the free world should he win the election. Johan Wahlstroms “HOUSE OF LIES” also slips the Trump image amongst a mass of anonymous faces that he incorporates into many of his works. According to Wahlstrom, he wants to see a world with “less lies, less greed, less war, less poverty, less religion, less violence, less people in jail, less child abuse, less problems with the environment and so on…”. (Bedford and bowery) It seems, based on the title of the work, which the Trump image has grown to represent something the opposite of that to the artist as well as the many citizens subjected to his words and ideas. Donald Trump is a person with a different vision of what a utopian world looks like.
Called “the poster child for the ‘Greed is Good’ 1980s” by a commentator on his book that came out in 1987 (wiki), he seems to have a lot of support almost 30 years later, making me think that despite the almost 10 year long recession, it’s back in style with an alarming percentage of Trump supporters.
The man certainly has charisma and that’s dangerous. As a child born in the late 80s, I first became aware of him in a major way as a television personality telling people “You’re fired” in his reality TV show, The Apprentice. If someone told me back then that he would be running for President in 2016, I would have laughed. Yet here we are watching a man who wants to build a great wall on the U.S. Mexico border to keep immigrants out and being considered a viable choice to be the number one representative of the U.S. He is openly prejudiced in the media against the following: Latinos, Blacks, Gays, Jews, Asians, Overweight, Women, you name it. From calling for Obama’s Birth Certificate and picking on John McCain for being captured as a POW while he was living it up in Manhattan to calling Hillary Clinton the worst Secretary of State we have ever had, the man has earned his place somewhere in our political consciousness as a venom-tongued mudslinger. So to see his image looking up from the artist’s canvas brings all the emotions and baggage of his words to the viewer, where a clueless kid would look at his face and maybe just see a chubby white man wearing a wig, an adult may see a dinosaur of a dying era sipping on champagne in a garishly decorated penthouse apartment while he works hard on perpetuating a gross deformity of the American Dream. Hate him or love him, here are some artworks incorporating The Donald. All hail to the Trump!
What does Trumps image represent for you Johan?
1. Trump´s image for me represents a huge lie in the respect that such dangerous man can actually convince followers to be prepared to vote for him. I am not sure what is worse, Trump or the fact that people are so blind that they do not see behind his facade and the danger to world stability he would be if he would come to power.
What sort of emotions are roused when you see his image?
2. I hope that the emotions roused when viewers see his face in modern art are those that will lead to the outcome of Trump not being elected to run for president.
Article by Nick Rogers