Trump wigs, nudes with mirrors and musical rage: artistic protest at the Republican National Convention
Wide range of protest art includes rap concert urging #MakeAmericaRAGEAgain
From hairy wigs as digs to naked dissent and rage-fuelled music, artistic expression is flowing at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this week.
While the convention floor saw an inner-circle Republican revolt on the very first day, there's been plenty of protest outside as well, with artists taking action to raise eyebrows, ire and — ultimately — to incite political change.
Welcome to the Trump Hut
One such art project is Trump Hut, described on Twitter as a "livable protest wigwam modeled after the hair of America's most notorious real estate mogul."
Perched in Willard Park, just outside the RNC headquarters, the art piece features 96 hula skirts made of straw — straw from Mexico.
The idea comes from a Canadian who credits his homeland's satire-loving strain of humour as inspiration.
I just published “What’s a Trump Hut?” <a href="https://t.co/qFmDKBCmFo">https://t.co/qFmDKBCmFo</a>—@TrumpHut
Ottawa-born Douglas Cameron and co-creator Tommy Noonan created the huts, with the help of Mexican artist Roxana Casillas, as a welcoming place for protesters to rest. It fits four at at time.
It was during the Occupy Wall Street protests that Cameron first got the idea to rectify the disparity between the luxury accommodations of "one-percenters" like Donald Trump and the surroundings of the open-air demonstrators, who lived in sometimes-unsanitary conditions amidst tents moved around by authorities.
Although his artistic hut ultimately faced permit issues near its site close to the RNC grounds, Cameron was pleased to be able provide a few hours of comfort, where protesters could enjoy the "Trump-like" opulence of a Persian carpet and fancy phone.
<a href="https://twitter.com/jacobsoboroff">@jacobsoboroff</a> Have you seen the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TrumpHut?src=hash">#TrumpHut</a>, a luxury protest wigwam in the shape of Trump's hair? At Willard Park <a href="https://t.co/A2ZW5jHwAi">pic.twitter.com/A2ZW5jHwAi</a>—@TrumpHut
The attention-grabbing gambit worked, Cameron said.
"Whenever you get a protest, for the last 30 years or so, the esthetics have tended to look very similar; with placards and slogans," he told CBC News.
"A lot of people, especially the segment of voters that you might actually be able to reach, will see protest signs and roll their eyes and just think 'Ok this is a radical fringe.'
"But with the Trump Hut people are driving by and stopping, offering to talk and even buy us doughnuts. We're finding [people] from all political persuasions, so it's one of those things that disarms people when you use absurdity and humour."
We wanted to do something that would stand out visually and make people laugh.- Douglas Cameron on his Trump Hut
The next stop for the hut is Trump Tower in New York next week. There's also a kickstarter campaign in the works, with the goal of placing more of the huts throughout the U.S. as a non-threatening way to engage people in conversation about the polarizing politician.
Spencer Tunick's naked truth
Famed photographer Spencer Tunick is another artist who taps into the power of original imagery. Since the 1990s, he's convinced hoards of people to voluntarily pose nude in public places, all in the name of artistic freedom and social commentary.
- Hundreds go buck naked at Austrian stadium
This time around, he selected only females to take part in this latest work of protest and armed his naked participants with large mirrors. The piece, Everything She Says Means Everything, is intended to "reflect the knowledge and wisdom of progressive women and the concept of Mother Nature."
Prophets of Rage take the stage
One of the oldest forms of protests — music with a message — also showed up at the RNC grounds.
Given the nature of the highly-charged political event and during this time of heightened tensions in the U.S., it wasn't one of those folksy sit-in concerts from the 1960s.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NoSleepTilCleveland?src=hash">#NoSleepTilCleveland</a> <a href="https://t.co/275gzC8iiH">pic.twitter.com/275gzC8iiH</a>—@prophetsofrage
Prophets of Rage took to the stage Monday at a protest concert organized as part of the End Poverty Now Rally.
Comprising members from Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill, the band was dubbed a rap "supergroup" by Rolling Stone magazine.
With more than 23,000 followers on Twitter, the group routinely employs social media as a platform and crafts explicit lyrics to express their feeling of violation by Republican Party policies.
Prophets Of Rage vs RNC: Public Square Park<a href="https://t.co/QzUoUpReM9">https://t.co/QzUoUpReM9</a>—@prophetsofrage
In a play on Trump's own slogan, they urged concert goers to join their cause to #MakeAmericaRAGEAgain.
Beyond the hashtag, it's also the name of the group's latest tour. It highlights that the band isn't using its art as a flash-in-the-pan protest, but rather as a committed movement to continue their fight against the powers that be.