INDECLINE Mounts “People’s Prison” Inside Trump Hotel

An ingenious pop-up installation of politically charged art and performance arrived at a Trump hotel in Manhattan yesterday and departed just as fast, with the anonymous Street Art troupe INDECLINE declaring the exhibition “The People’s Prison”.

INDECLINE. “The People’s Prison.”. Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City. March 30th 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The clandestine and complex staging inside the belly of the commercial beast was completely legal and very temporary, leaving behind a pristine suite for the next guests to enjoy, but the interim concrete prison was darkly lit and gave off a cool, dank aura.

Open for invited guests for only a short window of time, the full-scale mise en scene gave a sordid and dark view of present and past politics and power, featuring the leader of the free world in a chandeliered prison with McDonald’s fast food wrappers and live rats at his feet.

INDECLINE. “The People’s Prison.”. Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City. March 30th 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The seated central performer stares out between the bars at the vertical red and white bars of American flags hung as canvasses with new paintings by invited artists like Street Artists Ann Lewis aka GILF!, LMNOPI, and Jesse Hazlip, and studio artists like dark pop queen Molly Crabapple and the multi-disciplinary Panik Collective.

While you take in the completely temporary scene, helpful but quiet INDECLINE members in black ski masks shuffle furtively in your periphery, ready to answer questions or preemptively admonish you not to touch anything. In a time of repeated accusations of “fake news”, demagoguery and disinformation, this real-life fabrication of a dire prison reality is jarring when mounted as it is inside another garishly shiny hotel fabrication of reality.

INDECLINE. “The People’s Prison.”. Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City. March 30th 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Each painting is a portrait of an outspoken historian, linguist, political scientist, academic, activist, or philosopher of some renown – a group of current and past thinkers and speakers who collectively would blow the roof off a building with their common sense and de/constructively radical ideas.

But these ideas from people like Noam Chompsky, Betty Friedan, Howard Zinn, Erica Garner, and Edward Snowden rarely make it into the White House or are given voice by the infotainment screen media or newspapers. “History is bigger than any given season, and historically, the greatest heroes have stood for something deeper than politics,” say the artists of INDECLINE in a statement.

“Our biggest concerns is that we, as American citizens – but also on an even deeper level, as Global Citizens – not forget that we are all stranded here on this rock together, and that the greatest crime committed by President Trump is his attempt to profit from and exacerbate the kind of divisiveness that safeguards a true and natural democracy, one that attempts to protect all of its members equally, not draw lines that become margins where those least-represented financially can be quietly swept away.”

INDECLINE. “The People’s Prison.”. Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City. March 30th 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As you have come to expect from this inventive and risk-taking troupe, the execution and attention to detail here is as impressive as the sentiments are powerful. This time the location of their intervention is integral to the message.

We interviewed INDECLINE to understand more about “The People’s Prison”

BSA: You chose a number of influential thinkers and philosophers to highlight in a place where they probably wouldn’t even be recognized. Have the wheels completely come off the cart?

INDECLINE: Some of these celebrated figures will most certainly be recognizable here in America and abroad. We did specifically choose a handful of lesser known activists and freedom fighter, but that was simply to shine the light on their efforts and educate the masses to their existence and fighting spirit.

 

INDECLINE. “The People’s Prison.”. Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City. March 30th 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: The concept of trespassing is central to Street Art and graffiti practice. In this case you are not illegally trespassing but perhaps culturally or intellectually?

INDECLINE: While the room was booked using the traditional steps, the installation was still completely unauthorized. We’re also pretty sure snuggling rats into the property violated a number of laws.

 

INDECLINE. “The People’s Prison.”. Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City. March 30th 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: Some say that Trump the man is a Trojan Horse to get these insidious ideas inside the halls of power. Is this project a trojan horse of a different color?

INDECLINE: We would agree with that wholeheartedly. Trump is certainly a Trojan Horse. However, he has waged a war with millions of creative and fearless soldiers who risk everything to practice radical thinking, provocative protest techniques, poetic dissidence and subterfuge. The war started a longtime ago and INDECLINE believe it will be the people, not the powerful who will stand victorious.


The second half of this two-part exhibition will replicate “The People’s Prison” in a Pasadena art gallery next month with the sales benefiting a range of organizations from the Native American Rights Fund to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Organizers say part two of this coast to coast show will open April 11.

More details after the video at the end of this posting.

 

INDECLINE. “The People’s Prison.”. Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City. March 30th 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

INDECLINE. “The People’s Prison.”. Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City. March 30th 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

INDECLINE. “The People’s Prison.”. Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City. March 30th 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

INDECLINE. “The People’s Prison.”. Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City. March 30th 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

INDECLINE. “The People’s Prison.”. Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City. March 30th 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

INDECLINE. “The People’s Prison.”. Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City. March 30th 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

INDECLINE. “The People’s Prison.”. Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City. March 30th 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

INDECLINE: The making of “The People’s Prison”

 

Website: www.thisisindecline.com


Below is a list of the participating artists in “The People’s Prison” show along with the figures they painted and chosen charity information related to the April 11th art show.

Anna van Schaap – Betty Friedan – The Sasha Center

Ann Lewis – Erica Garner – Young New Yorkers

Anthony Aspero – Edward Snowden – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

AWARE – Noam Chomsky – Help International

Bandit – Rodolfo “Corky Gonzalez” – Children’s Center for Cancer

Danny Green – Hunter S. Thompson – Alexandria House

Gabe Larson – Muhammed Ali  – Southern Poverty Law Center

Jesse Hazelip – Cornel West – Indigenous Environmental Network

LMNOPi – Lyla June Johnston – Red Willow Farm

Molly Crabapple – Angela Davis – New Sanctuary Bond Fund

The Panik Collective – Howard Zinn – Common Cause Education

Randy Janson – Leonard Peltier – Native American Rights Fund

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