Four Years Of This: Tomorrow’s Anti-Trump Art Strike Will Miss The Target

Ever since the 2016 American Presidential election, the art press has grown more irrational than usual, which is saying something. The fear of a Trump Presidency, in tandem with a conservative-led Congress, has fired up the art world in a way not seen since the cultish swooning that greeted the first Obama inauguration eight years ago. A perfect example of this is the “Art Strike” taking place tomorrow during the Presidential Inauguration, an event which you would be forgiven for not even being aware of until now.

A summary of the reasoning behind this event is contained in an essay published yesterday in Apollo. The author, an art history professor at NYU, explains that the strike will be “in response to the feared imperilment of individual liberty and social equality that a Trump presidency might inaugurate.” He expresses the hope that this event may have legs well beyond just a single day, as the art world confronts Trump, et al., in the coming years.

The application of logic, a virtue little understood and rarely valued within the art world, requires that we ask two questions about this event. The first and perhaps most fundamental question is, are the organizers being a bit premature? Having such an extreme reaction to something which has not even happened yet is somewhat odd. It seems rather like going to the doctor because your toe hurts, and then insisting that he amputate your entire foot, before he has even taken an x-ray.

Yet the second, arguably more substantive question must be: who exactly is going to be hurt by this event?

Certainly an “art strike” will not hurt Mr. Trump, an appalling man of appalling taste who is not known for being a patron of the arts. Nor will it hurt Congress, which historically has shown little interest in or patience for the whingings of the art world. Nor is this event likely to have any impact on average American voters, whose rare dealings with the inherent attitude of condescension and relativism within the art world usually leave them unimpressed and unwilling to support it, morally or financially.

What is perhaps most curious about an exercise such as this, is that it may end up having the exact opposite effect of what its organizers intend. Beyond the noble values of the free expression of citizens and the unfettered creative process, the unspoken motivator here is that of money. Artists, museums, and public institutions are naturally worried that a new Republican administration will cut their funding, as has happened to them many times in the past in the shift from a leftist to a conservative government.  Yet if the art world is so concerned about Mr. Trump or Congress turning a giant, flaming eye from atop Barad-dûr in its direction, surely it could not make more certain of heightened fiscal scrutiny, than by going out of its way to insult, ridicule, and shriek at those who hold the purse strings.

In short, gentle reader, at least for this scrivener, it is going to be a long four years – or more.

3 thoughts on “Four Years Of This: Tomorrow’s Anti-Trump Art Strike Will Miss The Target

  1. The process of maturation is neither even nor equitable. I have seen people who can grasp quite complex systems, still be emotionally or principally immature. I think society at large assumes that maturity is an even, gradual, and widespread condition of human development. It is not, and I think, not discussed enough.

    We don’t discuss it because immediately so many people take it as a judgment. Of course it is, but none the less important because of that. Those most offended by such discussion are people who fear landing on the wrong side of the line. They know themselves, but fight most vigorously to deny that knowledge to the outside world. I think (but, don’t know because it is a subject not discussed) that some part of the many ‘social bubbles’ like hipsters, journalists, and artists is a bond formed by the common knowledge of their being some how ‘less’ than their contemporaries that ignore their herd. This strike seems to be an attempt at self-validation, and will likely fail because ultimately it pulls back the veil and nothing good ever comes from that. Just ask any magician.


  2. Oh no, what will we possibly do if the art strike deprives us of seeing art installations of garbage bags hung over dirty laundry?

    Beyond opposition to the man himself, if I were someone in the art world I wouldnt sweat it too much about the Republicans cutting programs given their abysmal record on that front with the last Republican government.

    In all seriousness though, we’ve seen so much talk about the “normalization” of Trump, but I worry about the normalization of delegitimizing your opponents. This stuff has always been around, but in my adult life this behavior seems to gradually be getting worse over the past three Presidents. It’s sad to see those of great privilege contributing to this malaise.


  3. Throughout history, it is the Catholic Church that has produced the most beautiful art; architecture, paintings, sculptures. The present-day “art community” would do well to abandon their attitude of relativism and “tolerance,” which leads to indifference (which is the opposite of love), and embrace the notion that there are moral absolutes which is NOT exclusionary but an expression of true love which is the source, from which, the best art flows.


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