Living Statues of Trump’s Worst Moments in 2020 Appear in U.S. Cities
July 27, 2020 ~ By Shari Rose (Updated August, 4, 2020)
A group called Trump Statue Initiative displays living statues that depict some of Trump’s worst moments in 2020
Living statues depicting some of Donald Trump’s darkest moments of his presidency in 2020 have appeared in Washington D.C. and Portland. These statues are covered head-to-toe in gold paint, and appear for a few hours in the city’s public spaces. Spearheaded by director Bryan Buckley, the group behind these Trump statues is called Trump Statue Initiative. The organization uses living statues as their medium for protest because, “unlike traditional statues, these works of art have a unique ability to create a sense of now and urgency.”
Trump Statue Initiative has displayed six total living statues in July and August that demonstrate the president’s “most notoriously self-serving, narcissistic and racist moments.” Here’s what TSI has produced so far:
True to its name, “The Poser” statue displays Trump holding a Bible while a police officer in riot gear beats a Black Lives Matter protester. It was displayed for a few hours on July 17 in Freedom Plaza in D.C. The statue references the Trump administration’s decision to gas and brutalize a crowd of peaceful protesters and journalists in Lafayette Square so the president could have a photo op in St. John’s Episcopal Church with a Bible he struggles to hold in a natural position.
Beneath Trump’s name and years in office, the statue’s plaque reads “Destroyer of Civil Rights and Liberties.” This tagline appears on every living statue created by Trump Statue Initiative. Currently, there is a Change.org petition circulating online that calls for the permanent installation of “The Poser” statue in D.C.
Now Go Back To School
Another statue titled “Now Go Back To School” shows Trump holding a golf club in one hand and a lollipop in the other as he stands in front of a child wearing a backpack and mask. This living statue likely represents the Trump administration’s push to send children back to school during an uncontrolled coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 150,000 Americans in the last seven months.
In the South and Midwest, school openings with in-person instruction have ushered in a flurry of temporary shutdowns and self-quarantine orders as students and teachers infect one another with coronavirus. Trump has repeatedly called for schools to open, tweeting “OPEN THE SCHOOLS!!!” on August 3. The golf club in the living statue’s hand may be in reference to Trump’s proclivity to golf during the coronavirus pandemic, including the 9 days he golfed in July 2020 alone.
Trump Statue Initiative’s third living statue is called “The Bunker,” and depicts Trump hiding in the White House bunker while holding a teddy bear. This references a May 29th incident in which a large gathering of anti-police brutality protesters were demonstrating outside the White House in the evening. Trump, Melania, and their son Barron were evacuated to the mansion’s underground bunker. Embarrassed by the story, Trump then went on the offensive in the following days, claiming that he was simply “inspecting” the bunker, and actually felt very safe the whole time.
The above three living Trump statues were either installed in front of the Trump Hotel or in Freedom Park in Washington DC.
Ode To Putin
On August 4, Trump Statue Initiative displayed three new living statues, this time in downtown Portland. The “Ode to Putin” statue shows Trump taking a selfie as federal officers in riot gear drag a Black Lives Matter protester into an unmarked van. This statue appears to reference the many recorded instances of federal law enforcement officers grabbing peaceful protesters off the street and forcing them into unmarked vehicles in Portland and New York City. The statue’s reference to Putin likely stems from Russia’s authoritarian crackdown on public protest in the country, including a law criminalizing street protests that Putin approved in 2014.
I Just Wish Her Well Frankly
The “I Just Wish Her Well Frankly” living statue depicts Trump kneeling and praying over an altar that displays a photo of himself, Melania, Jeffrey Epstein, and Ghislaine Maxwell posing together in 2000. The name of this piece refers to Trump’s answer about Maxwell during a press conference on July 21, 2020, in which he was asked about Maxwell’s arrest on child sex trafficking charges, all of which directly involve Epstein. At the podium, Trump said: “I don’t know – I haven’t really been following it too much. I just wish her well, frankly. I have met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach, and I guess they lived in Palm Beach. But I wish her well, whatever it is.”
The FBI arrested Ghislaine Maxwell in early July on multiple federal charges involving the exploitation and abuse of minors, including conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage illegal sex acts, sex trafficking, and transportation of a minor with intent to engage in illegal sex acts.
On August 3, the day before this living statue went live, Trump doubled down on his well wishes for Maxwell, saying in an interview with Axios: “Her friend or boyfriend [Jeffrey Epstein] was either killed or committed suicide. She’s now in jail. Yeah, I wish her well. I’d wish you well. I’d wish a lot of people well. Good luck. Let them prove somebody was guilty.”
Some Federal Property We Can Attack
The third and final living statue put up by Trump Statue Initiative in Portland is called “Some Federal Property We Can Attack.” It shows Trump pointing to a home’s mailbox as three federal officers in riot gear and gas masks take a close look at it. This statue likely refers to Trump’s escalation of attacks on the integrity of mail-in voting ahead of the 2020 Election. In July alone, Trump tweeted at least a dozen times about the topic, seeking to undermine public faith in U.S. elections and appearing to lay the groundwork for declaring the election invalid if he doesn’t win:
- “Mail-In Voting, unless changed by the courts, will lead to the most CORRUPT ELECTION in our Nation’s History!”
- “Mail-In Ballot fraud found in many elections. People are just now seeing how bad, dishonest and slow it is.
- “Mail-In Voting is already proving to be a catastrophic disaster.”
- “2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history.”
- “RISKS to our Democracy from dangerous Universal Mail-In-Voting…”
- “Rigged Election. I told you so.”
Trump Statue Initiative in D.C. and Portland
Trump Statue Initiative encourages other artists across the country to create their own golden living statues and spread the movement. TSI’s website says the ultimate goal of this work is to get people out to vote in November: “Most importantly, if you do nothing else, we urge you to register to vote on November 3rd. We would very much like this growing exhibit to end then.”
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