Late last Friday night at a golf course in rural New Jersey, a group of people wearing ski masks pulled up in a white van disguised as a Time Warner Cable vehicle and proceeded to plant six gravestones, complete with votive candles, miniature American flags, and roses. When the sun came up, they returned to the scene of the crime, documenting their deed.
Commemorating the anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration, guerrilla street art collective Indecline — who installed naked Trump statues in public parks throughout the country in 2016 and strung “Ku Klux Klowns” in Richmond’s Bryan Park last fall — decided to create a kind of “political report card, in essence, a year in review,” an anonymous representative of the group told Hyperallergic in a phone interview.
Titled “Grave New World,” the project’s gravestones mark the end of concepts like “Decency,” which died with Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017 (as the stone crudely says, “We ‘moved on her like a bitch’”) and “The Last Snowman,” which died the day Trump decided to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement (“Rest assured he was giving a scientist the finger as he went”). The remaining four stones mark the death of the American Dream with the immigration ban; of “Our Future” with the end of DACA; of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with the arrival of Mick Mulvaney; and of “Those Bootstraps They Keep Talking About” with the latest tax bill. The anonymous representative noted that they really had to narrow down the gravestones from “a diverse selection of things Trump fucked up” in the last year. “We would have needed a much larger budget to cover everything.”
As for the placement of the gravestones, the group chose the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, where a Washington Post article from March 2017 noted that the President wishes to be buried. The group came across the article just as they were thinking about what to plan for the anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, so they started scouting the golf course. “The property is extremely easily accessible,” the anonymous representative told Hyperallergic, noting that the cemetery idea lent itself well to the location. “We’d been talking about doing a tombstone project for a long time, and around Halloween the project started coming together.”
The group carved the tombstones out of wood, painted them, and got everything ready — including a “Trump Cemetery” sign to screw onto the gate to complete the illusion of a graveyard — before setting out in their borrowed van with a Time Warner Cable magnet on the side. “We worked for two hours in the snow. It was freezing! The cops drove by a couple times, but they didn’t see us,” our source told Hyperallergic. “It was really logistically involved and took a lot of planning, much more than our previous projects.”
Our source didn’t know whether or not “Grave New World” was already taken down (they tipped off the press right after they took their photos and videos, and covered up their tracks), but he said the group specifically threw in “a few little fuck-yous to make it hard to remove,” like installing the tombstones into the ground with rebar and using specialty screws to attach the cemetery sign to the fence. He was also happy that the mayor wasn’t terribly concerned, saying there was “some vandalism, probably more like mischief than vandalism,” according to the Central New Jersey News. As the anonymous representative of Indecline told Hyperallergic: “It’s January. No one’s golfing.”