Artist Andres Serrano has never shied away from creating art that makes a stir. Though not entirely created with shock value in mind, his works intimately deal with spirituality and physicality that often result in an intense feel. His newest art show may be just as divisive but for a somewhat different reason.
Across two floors of a former night club in New York, Serrano, alongside a/political (an organization that works with artists producing engaging art) opens ‘The Game: All Things Trump.’ Yes, President Donald Trump is the sole subject of Serrano’s new endeavour, which features a plethora of Trump memorabilia, objects, and art. Nearly 1,000 pieces were amassed by Serrano over the last year (costing the artists around $200,000) to create the show.
Through online auctions, eBay, and other sources, Serrano grabbed up everything from the namesake of the show – Trump: The Game, Trump’s failed Milton Bradley board game from 1989 – to a 1990 New York Post cover with Trump’s face accompanying the headline: ‘The Best Sex I Ever Had.’ At the centre of the exhibition is a 2004 large-scale photograph that Serrano took of Trump for his ‘America’ series, in which he photographed 100 people from the US in all walks of life. ‘I chose him because he was part of the American Dream, but also because he was Donald Trump, and even in 2004 that meant something,’ Serrano said. He paid nearly $2,000 for a cake given as a party favour from Trump and Melania’s 2005 wedding. Even in late March he was still collecting items for the show, which was when he snatched up a fake $1000 bill brandishing an image of Hillary Clinton behind bars that was also signed by Trump during a Florida Rally. ‘I got a lot of what I call Donald Trump’s greatest hits—the Trump Steaks, Trump Vodka, the Trump Shuttle,’ Serrano told Newsweek in an interview. ‘Because these things are well known. They were magnificent failures, but he tried. I don’t know what that means for America. But he tries, you know?’
The show focuses more on Trump before his White House days; a time when everyone’s love-hate relationship with Trump flourished and Trump persisted in self-promotion. This period, to Serrano, was critical to Trump’s success in getting into office. ‘It’s no accident that Donald Trump became president. You could say that Donald Trump has been campaigning all his life,’ said Serrano in a comment to ARTnet.
Serrano has been very careful, though, in trying not to give an opinion through the exhibition. It isn’t meant as an anti-Trump protest or an overly pro-Trump gesture like some artists have done. ‘I certainly didn’t want to be antagonistic with this [show], because I find a lot of anti-Trump art to be boring. I wanted to make something a lot more interesting—something that would allow the subject to speak for himself,’ said Serrano.
Serrano is very aware, though, that the exhibition could be seen as a glorification of Trump or even himself because like Trump, Serrano is an artist that people love to hate much in part to his infamous Piss Christ (1987). The photograph depicts a plastic crucifix dunked in a reservoir of Serrano’s own urine, and, as you might expect, has been the centre of controversy for more than 30 years now, much like Trump’s ability to cause controversy today.
‘The Game: All Things Trump’ will be on view at 409 West 14th Street in New York from April 12th until June 9th.