Mary Tacoroni is a sophomore psychology major.
Residents from New York, San Francisco, Cleveland, Seattle and Los Angeles woke up to a very strange and unpleasant surprise last month: their very own life-sized statue of Donald Trump. All statues were placed in popular areas, such as New York’s Union Square and San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood. Unlike most anti-Trump art, these statutes did not focus on his hateful, bigoted words or his heinous facial expressions, but rather, depicted him nude. The statues featured Trump with veiny, bloated skin, a sagging behind, cellulite, a nearly non-existent penis, and absolutely no balls. The works were appropriately named “The Emperor has no Balls,” and were a tribute to the Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fable, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” which told of a similarly pompous individual.
According to the Washington Post, the artist responsible, Joshua Monroe, or “Ginger,” was commissioned by the group INDECLINE, an American art collective, to create these statues. The Post notes that most research for this project came from Google image searches for “unsettling body parts.” The statues were obviously meant to humiliate and degrade, but degrade who exactly? It was not Trump’s body on display, but rather an amalgam of supposedly undesirable body parts. This project did not hurt Trump. It only stood as a reminder that people who look like those statues, who may be overweight or have less than perfect genitalia, are up for grabs when it comes to making a crude joke.
This childish style of artwork serves no purpose other than to reduce our politics to petty insults and shallow jabs. Not to mention the obvious sexism of implying a leader without balls is one without strength or skill. District 11 Supervisor Scott Wiener of San Francisco defends the statues as “political art,” but he and others fail to see the problems with using these trivial methods in political settings. Even the masses who enjoyed the work were not found discussing and debating the election; rather, they were seen posing with the statues and using their fingers to measure Trump’s depicted genitalia. The root of this work is cruel and lacks depth. It has no message other than positing that flabby and abnormal bodies are fun to ridicule. It is superficial and ultimately meaningless, and this is not the first time INDECLINE’s works have come under fire for this sort of thing.
The collective, founded by Ryen McPherson, is self described as a group of artists who focus on “social, ecological and economic injustices.” Some high-profile works include “Black Lives Matter: Hollywood,” in which the group covered blank Hollywood stars with the names of those who have fallen at the hands of police. Another work by the collective is a mural in Mexico which states “¡RAPE TRUMP!” and includes directions from Tijuana to his office in Manhattan. The group does indeed stick to catchy, shocking work, but their intentions are questionable in regards to the execution. In the BLM piece, every single star also featured INDECLINE’s logo. Some street art bloggers, such as RJ Rushmore at Vandalog, argue that the group has no stake in these political movements, but rather uses them to push their own brand and create hype. T
he group’s history backs this up, as it was made infamous for its work on the film series “Bumfights,” a film series which featured homeless people being paid by INDECLINE to perform harmful acts, such as running into stacks of milk crates. Another incident in 2014 involved McPherson stealing human body parts from a hospital in Thailand and attempting to ship them to the US. Instead of sparking positive political and artistic conversation, INDECLINE’s true intentions seem to be rooted in mean-spirited publicity stunts. They’ve proven to be no better than Trump when it comes to shock-value politics.