I recently have been having conversations about what I plan to do on the inauguration day (a day that will no doubt live in infamy if we just give it enough time). The thought of having to witness and worse listen to the manufactured consent summoned to celebrate that mean-spirited, buffoon of a carnival barker ascending to the office of president almost sends me into a fugue state. So when the question has arisen in conversation my attempts at answering have been rambling, unfocused, and at times damn near stuporific. For a long time I was still unsure what to do besides rend my clothes and go to work covered in sackcloth and ashes. However, it turns out I will likely join the Women’s March on Washington, not merely as an ally, but as an accomplice (a key difference Laura Raicovich hipped me to).
I want to stand with and give material and bodily support to those who march against the retrograde politics this incoming administration represents. As I suspect I will increasingly need to do in the coming weeks and months, and perhaps years I leaned on colleagues and friends to tell me what they were planning to do, and took guidance from their telling.
Below, five artists, curators, and writers who I know have answered the question “What will you do on inauguration day?” with insight, wit, and a ravenous will. I have edited their responses on for clarity and length. I take inspiration from all of them, and believe you can too.
Alicia Grullón is an interdisciplinary artist from New York City. Her work moves between performance, video, and photography, channeling her approach towards critiques on the politics of presence. In 2017, she will begin her residency at The Center for Book Arts.
As the inauguration draws closer, I cannot help but reflect on Trump’s reaction to the cast of the Broadway show “Hamilton” addressing vice-president-elect Pence after their performance. It was reminiscent of South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson’s shouting at President Obama in 2009. Wilson’s provoking “You lie!” was layered with racist patriarchal reprimand. Trump’s describing the cast’s address as harassment was a clear warning to artists of color and allies to “mind your place.” I have come to realize that art and culture for me, as an Latinx artist, is a form of protest. As I learned in a conference last Spring: “Art was the last intangible property left to us, descendants of the middle passage and colonized in the Western Hemisphere.”
The 2016 presidential election has left no neutral ground to stand on. To demand to participate — be seen and heard, at such a moment in history — is my due to ancestors who did not make the passage. This doesn’t mean that we have to be heroes. Rather, this moment demands that our actions be intentional. And since organizing is very hard work, we must work collectively. As artists and cultural workers of color, we are being called to drive art away from violent capitalist values towards self-determined and rebellious cultural expression grounded in our histories and communities. Much will be up to us, to provoke and reawaken human consciousness and move it towards justice.
On the inauguration morning I will be gathering with activists of color at the Harriet Tubman statue in Harlem on St. Nicolas Avenue and we will do whatever the spirit moves us to do.
Jennie Lamensdorf is a writer and curator living in Brooklyn, NY. Since 2012, she has been curator of Time Equities Inc. Art-in-Buildings, and more recently she co-founded Forward Union.
I have been extremely motivated the last few weeks and intend to ride this wave of energy through the Inauguration and into the next few years. Since the election, I have taken on projects that feel urgent and I find the work being done by my peers and by the grassroots progressive community to be inspiring. In December, I joined up with friends and colleagues and organized the Forward Union Fair — a one-day political and community info fair, with talks and performances. It was important for me to give my anxious, post-election energy a focus and put it to work. I am impressed by many similar, recent endeavors, including the Women’s March on Washington, No! campaign, #J20, the Nasty Woman exhibition, and the Pussyhat Project.
I will spend most of Inauguration Day preparing for January 21st, when I’ll travel in a minivan full of friends to Washington, DC to participate in the Women’s March on Washington. On the 20th, I will make posters and pack warm clothes, including my new hat from the Pussyhat Project. The project’s main focus is to have everyone marching in Washington on the 21st wear a handmade, pink hat, thus creating a collective visual statement. I cannot knit or crochet, but I can make it to DC and wear my hat with pride.
I’m undecided if I will watch the Inauguration and I expect that will be a last minute decision. I believe it is important witness this event but also know that my viewership will make me complicit in the attention juggernaut that feeds the President-elect and his supporters. Perhaps I will watch on mute.
Steven G. Fullwood is a writer living in New York City. He is currently the associate curator of the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library.
… what will I do on the day of the Trump’s inauguration?
As the world struggles to evolve, Trump represents for me the last gasps of white supremacy trying to maintain itself. He won, of course, because of what he symbolizes: America’s disgusting racist, homophobic, sexist, anti-intellectual, colonial, and capitalist traditions that don’t even really benefit white people because we’re all attached at the hip. One cannot denigrate another without being irrevocably soiled.
I plan to mark the inauguration and his four years in office — that is, if he’s not impeached, which is completely possible given his hubris and cluelessness — by witnessing the ceremony and practicing being a radical human being with an untied tongue.
Guido H. Maus is a Belgian-born gallery owner living and working in Birmingham, Alabama. In early 2010, Maus opened beta pictoris gallery, a contemporary art gallery and space dedicated to supporting creativity with a focus on experimental and issue driven works.
Not only will our gallery (beta pictoris) be closed on Inauguration Day, but since I’ll be in London with San Francisco-based artist Travis Somerville, who has been invited to present his series The Lost Voice at the Miguel Amado curated “Dialogue Section” of the London Art Fair (which we discussed in our latest newsletter), our inauguration day activity will consist of Travis creating a drawing of Trump on site, live on our gallery’s stand, which will then be sold, with 100% of the profits going to Planned Parenthood.
Dominique Duroseau is a Newark-based artist born in Chicago but raised primarily in Haiti. Her interdisciplinary practice explores themes of racism, socio-cultural issues, and existential dehumanization.
There’s a video/photography piece I’ve been putting off for a while now, where I use white foundation makeup to cover my face; I bought a couple versions that say “pure white” and “perfect white” which to me is a conceptual can of worms. During the election, “Make America Great Again” (to me at least) was a “watch your back” statement that made me perplexed and want to strategize: how does one avoid getting attacked? Clearly, white is safe, and to paraphrase Paul Mooney, “I need the complexion for the protection.”
As a statement, for the day of the inauguration and throughout that weekend, I plan on realizing this piece. What does it mean when in 2017 we have to fear ramifications due to our race, gender, and creed?