A group of artists whose political artwork work became headline news during the rise of Donald Trump are working together to turn activists' and artists' blood into a painting called RISE UP THY YOUNG BLOOD. Contributing to the painting can be seen as quite literally a blood oath, with participants pledging to resist the real estate mogul-turned-politician's potential presidential policies aimed at targeting women, immigrants, and minorities.
Late last year, Illma Gore, who allegedly received legal threats from members of the Trump campaign for her depiction of Trump with a micropenis, began working with INDECLINE, a guerilla collective that coordinated the simultaneous installation of nude Trump statues in five US cities. In December, Gore issued a call to arms encouraging the art community to challenge the president-elect at every available opportunity. Now, her collaboration with INDECLINE is the first of several planned anti-Trump art actions in the first year of his presidency.
RISE UP THY YOUNG BLOOD begins with a blood drive on January 13, in which "high profile donors from the world of art, music, graffiti and activism," will contribute up to a pint of blood each. INDECLINE will coordinate the event with an anonymous blood bank, revealing the location to only confirmed donors and documenting the entire process. They'll deliver the sanguine fluid to Gore, who will produce a blood-red painting, loosely based on the American Flag, to be hung at LA's Samuel Freeman Gallery on January 15. Gore has already started painting using blood her own blood and donations from INDECLINE members. Germophobes, relax: the painting will be sealed with acrylic to make it safe for viewing.
Gore first made headlines with a project called Tattoo Me, in which Kickstarter donors paid $10 for her to tatto their names onto her body. Her painting career gained traction with Make America Great Again, a painting of Trump's face on the body of a close friend with micropenis. In May she tells The Creators Project she filed a police report after being struck in the face by a man who yelled, "Trump 2016, bitch!" After she encountered censorship in the US, Make America Great Again was displayed at London's Maddox Gallery, where it was priced at £1 million.
Over the past 15 years INDECLINE have made headlines for graffiti, anarchistic guerilla artwork, and video documentation of their activities. Created in 2001, the collective is also known for creating what they believe to be the largest illegal graffiti in the world. Members have received criticism for distributing the original Bumfights videos (though not later volumes promoted by Ty Beeson), and for allegedly trying to mail human remains to the US from Thailand.
Since Trump announced his candidacy for the presidency, INDECLINE and Gore have joined the horde of artists "getting to work," á la Toni Morrison. We spoke to Gore and a representative of INDECLINE about RISE UP THY YOUNG BLOOD and the role of artists during the Trump presidency.
The Creators Project: How long has this project been in the works?
Illma Gore and INDECLINE: After gaining international notoriety in 2016 for their respective Trump projects, INDECLINE and Illma Gore connected to discuss building a larger network of political artists and activists.
INDECLINE traveled to Cuba to visit with Los Frikis, a group of Cuban radicals, who in the 80’s in an act of solidarity, self-injected themselves with HIV positive blood to live with their HIV positive family and friend who had been exiled by Castro. This trip, and the conversations with the only two survivors of the movement provided the inspiration for this project.
Can you describe what you are planning to paint?
The subject matter of the painting will not be revealed to the press or the public until Sunday, January 15th.
What is the effect of using blood of "high profile donors from the world of art, music, graffiti and activism" as pigment?
Those involved in this project wish to send a message of unity and fearlessness to the Trump Admiration. It’s important for Trump to know his actions will be met with resistance from the leaders of the art world. It’s unlikely that he realizes how inspired most artist have become to fight back as a result of his gaining the presidency. We will be the shadow that follows Trump and provides the checks and balances our government fails to.
What are the challenges of using blood as a medium? Are you testing it to make sure there are no bloodborne pathogens?
Blood and watercolor paint are identical. One just clots and smells a little weird. The finished piece will be sealed in acrylic so it be safely displayed in public. None of the blood will be going through any testing.
The blood you're raising could be used to save lives. Why use it for paint instead?
As strongly as we believe in giving blood to save lives, we also believe in creating art to inspire and raise awareness, especially in times like these.
Trump is a threat and needs to be handled as such. His proposed laws will put women, immigrants and many others in danger. Many of the donors feel the same threat and through this collaborative project, a message of solidarity that resonates with those with similar feelings of unease and discontent, can be delivered in hopes of strengthening the active movement against Trump in the coming years.
What's next for your political call to arms?
INDECLINE and Illma both have dozens of projects lined up for the first half of the year and plan on bankrupting themselves to see them through. They will collaborate on more issues together as well as work to create a large network of artists who can assist in the cultural battle ahead.
Are artists responsible bringing both sides of the political spectrum together?
Trump’s presidency will shape up to be a historical one and it will most likely be remembered for what he chooses to ruin as opposed to what he chooses to fix. As artists facing this reality, it’s an obligation to take charge and fight to close the social and political chasm that currently divides our country.
The quality of America’s leader is reflected in the solidarity of its people. This project is just one part of Trump’s reflection.
How much blood do you need to raise?
As much as America is willing to give.