Two years ago this week, activist art collective INDECLINE installed life-sized statues of Donald Trump in the nude—complete with a gargantuan paunch, varicose veins, and an acorn-sized micro-penis—in five cities across the US. Most of them were destroyed within days, but a few wound up auctioning for upwards of $20,000. Now, the naked Trump effigy is back, and this time INDECLINE managed to make it even more disturbing.
At about 2 AM on Friday, five artists from the collective scaled a billboard at the corner of Melrose and North Martel in Los Angeles and decked it out with their latest creation: a fully-nude Trump statue painted to look like John Wayne Gacy, a serial killer known for moonlighting as a clown who murdered at least 33 young men in the 70s. On the massive canvas behind the statue, they scrawled one of Gacy's most infamous quotes: "A clown can get away with murder."
A spokesperson for INDECLINE told VICE that the inspiration for the statue came from that quote, which one member of the collective likened to Trump saying he could "stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters." Plus, the spokesperson said, "if things progress the way they are now"—especially in terms of what Trump's environmental policies are doing to the planet—"he’ll have a bigger body count than Gacy ever would."
"You could look at Trump as a maniacal serial killer, in terms of what he’s done to the fundamentals of democracy," the spokesperson said. "Things that we not just cherish, but we also assume are untouchable, he’s really chipping away at them. Things like the freedom of the press, human rights, civil decency, cultural diversity."
INDECLINE has been planning its latest stunt for about two months, putting in countless hours of work toward a project that, in all likelihood, might be taken down before nightfall. Last time the statues went up, they were beaten to shit by anti-Trumpers, ripped apart by some punk band, and carted away by local parks departments in as little as a few hours. INDECLINE didn't pay for this billboard—as their spokesperson told me, "there’s nothing legal about this one”—so it's only a matter of time before it gets removed.
Until it does, INDECLINE hopes the piece will invigorate Trump's opposition, and remind them—through this ugly, terrifying caricature—just how ugly and terrifying Trump's presidency has been. A year and a half into his term, INDECLINE's spokesperson told VICE, there's a risk of becoming complacent, "resigned to the idea that we’re going to hell in a hand basket." As they see it, it's on them to help make sure that doesn't happen.
"We want to raise awareness, we want to inspire people to continue fighting," the spokesperson said. "Every generation has its obligation to pull the rope in the opposite direction. You can’t sit and stand by and be cognizant of the things going on in your country, and say that you give a shit, and say that you care, and do absolutely nothing. It’s our way of saying, 'This is fucked up.'"
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