Artist Jennifer Rubell opened a performance piece, “Ivanka Vacuuming” at the Flashpoint Gallery in Washington, D.C. on February 1 and it didn’t take long for the Trumps to lodge a protest.
Ivanka, I would encourage you to see the piece and form your own direct response. I would be happy to arrange for you to do it alone with none of the media circus that has formed around it. Not knocking anyone down. Exploring complicated subjects we all care about.
— Jennifer Rubell (@jenniferrubell) February 5, 2019
Sad, but not surprising to watch self professed “feminists” launching sexist attacks against @IvankaTrump. In their crazed world, sexism is OK if hurts their political enemies.
That's ok, they can go put on their stupid hats & she’ll get back to actually fighting for women. https://t.co/yxXIDz2R8e
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 5, 2019
Rubell’s piece depicts an Ivanka doppelganger, dressed in a pink dress and stilettos, vacuuming up crumbs from a hot pink carpet in Stepford Wives fashion. The audience is encouraged to participate by throwing breadcrumbs onto the carpet, during the course of the two hour event. The Conversation:
Vacuuming isn’t inherently degrading or abject. But it’s difficult to imagine Ivanka, at any point in her privileged upbringing, wielding a vacuum.
The artwork is jolting in the way that it juxtaposes Ivanka’s public image – pristine, professional, camera-ready – with tasks performed by the maids and housekeepers who labor in Trump’s homes, hotels and resorts.
But Rubell slyly subverts the dynamics of control. Who’s in charge? Is it the wealthiest one percent whose needs power the vacuums, start up the hotel laundries every night and turn on the kitchen fryers at 4 a.m.?
Or, perhaps it’s us – the public, the spectator – who keep the crumbs coming, participating in a system that privileges the few at the expense of the many.
Rubell says, “Art can offer a truth that politics can’t. It can create a portrait of things that contradict each other. This is a great gift of art and a great defect of politics.” True enough.
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