Artists parade their fears to Ivanka Trump's doorstep

Artists protest at the Puck Building, where Ivanka Trump lives with her husband, Jared Kushner, whose family owns the building, in New York November 28, 2016. — Picture by Benjamin Norman/The New York Times
Artists protest at the Puck Building, where Ivanka Trump lives with her husband, Jared Kushner, whose family owns the building, in New York November 28, 2016. — Picture by Benjamin Norman/The New York Times

NEW YORK, Nov 29 — The contemporary art world in New York is not known for its political cohesion or conviction, at least in recent years.

But more than 150 artists, curators and gallery workers turned out last night to march in front of a downtown Manhattan building where Ivanka Trump, the future first daughter, has an apartment and is believed to keep some pieces of a notable contemporary collection.

The quiet, orderly protest in front of the Puck Building, owned by the family of Trump’s husband, the developer and investor Jared Kushner, drew well-known artists like Cecily Brown, Rob Pruitt, Ryan McNamara, Jonah Freeman, Dan Colen and Marilyn Minter, whose work is the subject of a retrospective on view at the Brooklyn Museum.

Nate Lowman, an artist whose work Trump is known to collect, also marched, along with the art dealer Bill Powers.

“The culture changes, and fascism rears its ugly head every so often and that’s what’s happening now,” said Minter, marching with a battery-powered candle and a sign that made a comically profane reference to Donald Trump’s claim to have grabbed women’s genitals.

“We wanted to do something to start the ball rolling, to grow a protest, and we’re artists, so we know how to make posters.”

For the last week, Ivanka Trump has been the subject of a new Instagram account called dear_ivanka, which posts generally glamorous social-media or publicity pictures of the president-elect’s daughter alongside captions addressed to her that express fears about Donald Trump’s policy positions, about the potential for political corruption because of the Trump family’s international business interests and about the racist and xenophobic views of some of Donald Trump’s supporters.

A post on November 23 said: “Your father’s choice to head up the EPA, Myron Ebell, is a fanatical anti-science, anti-environmentalist climate change denier. I’m afraid for what’s at stake.”

Previous posts included messages such as “Dear Ivanka, I’m an American Muslim and I was attacked on the subway” and “Dear Ivanka, I’m black and I’m afraid of Jeff Sessions.”

(Ebell, who directs environmental and energy policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian advocacy group partly financed by the coal industry, is leading Donald Trump’s transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency. Sessions, the Republican senator from Alabama and Donald Trump’s choice to become attorney general, was denied a federal judgeship in 1986 amid accusations of racially charged comments.)

The Instagram account, begun by an art-world group that includes the artist Jonathan Horowitz, the independent curator Alison Gingeras and Powers, calling themselves the Halt Action Group, links to a website,, whose front page features a picture of Ivanka Trump and Kushner, both of whom are advisers to Donald Trump’s transition team.

Under the headline “Ivanka, It’s not okay,” the site says “racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and homophobia are not acceptable anywhere — least of all in the White House. Steve Bannon has no place in the White House. Jeff Sessions has no place in the White House. Talk of a Muslim registry has no place in the White House. Hate has no place in the White House. We refuse to ‘wait and see.’ We look to you as the voice of reason.”

Horowitz, whose work sometimes addresses electoral politics, said the idea of directing the protest and messages to Ivanka Trump came because she has become known in the art world as a progressive figure and as someone who seems to care much more about culture than her father does.

“I don’t think we have any real illusions that she’s going to become a champion for any of the things we care about, or try to stop the things we fear are going to happen,” Horowitz said.

“But it’s a way to start something, a first action of what we hope is going to become a much bigger movement.” — The New York Times  

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