Artist Jennifer Rubell sparked headlines and turned heads when her recent exhibit, “Ivanka Vacuuming,” opened on Feb. 1 in Washington, D.C. The interactive exhibit invites audience members to carelessly throw breadcrumbs on a strikingly pink floor, thus enticing an Ivanka Trump look-alike model to clean up the never-ending mess.
What first appears to be a simple interactive piece has quickly caught the attention of many critics, including Trump herself. Trump promptly responded to the attention-grabbing exhibit by writing on Twitter, as all Trumps do when they need to respond to hate, by stating “Women can choose to knock each other down or build each other up. I choose the latter.” While it is probable to interpret such a muddled exhibit to show Trump as nothing more than a household figure responsible for consistently cleaning up the never-ending mess of her father’s frightful presidency, Trump seems to interpret the work as an attack on her character. Trump’s response to such an exhibit is nothing less than hypocrisy, a characteristic so often shared in her family. The mindset of building women up is something that is hard to evoke under the Trump administration and its family. Ivanka, where was this empowering mindset when you supported the nomination of sexual predator Brett Kavanaugh? How about the time you stood by anti-abortionist and extremist Kim Reynolds for her bid as Governor of Iowa? Finally, how are you saying that you should build other women up when you were nothing more than a bystander to your father’s harassment towards former Fox News host Megyn Kelly after he said “she had blood coming out of her wherever?” Ivanka, I think that you choose to build other women up only when it benefits you and your family. Although this exhibit is certainly not one showing the empowerment of other women, it is also not your place to cry victim, something that seems to run in the family, any time an individual attempts to bring attention towards the hypocrisy in your family.
Ultimately, this interactive exhibit is anything but a transformative masterpiece. The simple, and almost nauseating, pink background coupled with the complicated message is anything but art. Rubbell’s piece offers a strong juxtaposition between the minimalist interaction and a convoluted message, making it unclear whether Trump is endlessly cleaning up the ruins of her father’s presidency, or if she is criticizing modern femininity. The overall muddled message has left more viewers confused than in awe, myself included.
The art exhibit is not a masterpiece or a stroke of brilliance; rather, it exemplifies what the Trumps do best: bring media attention to themselves. The Trump family’s ego is constantly fed with attention in the media, whether positive or negative. They find great pride in having people talk about them and feel as if it validates their lives in some way. While this exhibit fell tragically flat in the art-world, it is probably adored by the family for giving them another reason to be at the media’s begging. Overall, this lack of brilliance in art creates feelings that correlate to the current mood of the administration: hoping something good can come out of this situation, yet, at the end of the day, feeling disillusioned and just wanting it to end.