Timothy Goodman and Jessica Walsh have taken aim at love and friendship in past duo-projects, and now Donald Trump is in the crosshairs. To mix a metaphor, do oil and water mix?
Their premise is that Trump doesn’t love America, he loves himself, “so we had Trump lookalikes go out in the streets of NYC and make out in places like Trump Tower,” says Goodman.
They also looked closely at children. “Kids are the future, and they’re listening, so we asked kids what they thought about Trump. Pretty amazing and telling responses,” he adds.
I asked Goodman and Walsh more about this project. The website for both videos can be found here.
We are all frustrated by Trump’s performance as a presidential candidate and potential president. But do stunts like the kissing Trumps, or any of the other street interventions, do anything to enlighten, inform or lessen anxiety?
Goodman: Trump loves himself more than America. I don’t think this street performance is meant to lessen anxiety, I think it was meant to reassure his narcissism and lunacy. We made this to encourage people to vote for Hillary: the Bernie fans, the undeciders, the ones voting for Gary Johnson, etc.
Walsh: It did lessen some people’s anxiety if only momentarily; hundreds of people who passed by were smiling, laughing and filming the kissing Trumps. Many people came up to us or wrote us on social media to let us know how much it made their day.
While the performance was happening we were handing out hundreds of postcards with the mission statement and the link to our site with voting registration information. Many people used these postcards/stickers/artwork from our pins as a jumping-off point to start discussions about Trump on their own social media. I think we all hold a power these days through our social channels to start these important discussions and inspire others to register to vote. We wanted to provide assets that might ignite or inspire those discussions.
Watching the Kids on Trump adds to said anxiety. I realize being silent does not help, but does this move the conversation along?
Goodman: My cousin who was undecided told me that he is voting for Hillary after watching the video of kids. Kids are the future, and they are listening to Trump’s rhetoric. It was shocking to hear how much those kids knew.
Walsh: That depends on who you ask, of course, but we felt it was useful to show how children are listening and watching what is happening, and many of them are unhappy as well. They can’t vote, but we still wanted people to hear their voices. Many of the kids were so informed and opinionated; a few of the parents were telling us how surprised they were by it as well, as they weren’t even talking about politics with their kids. Kids are listening to TV, they hear things from friends, they know these horribly racist and sexist comments Trump continues to make …
In general, while I agree that action must be taken to thwart a terrible specter, do you feel that design and art have any significant effectiveness, other than allaying helplessness?
Goodman: Not always, but I think Shepard Fairey’s HOPE poster had effectiveness. Despite it all, I personally believe that no one should be silent. We should use whatever tool we can to not let Trump in the White House—whether it’s creating a video, doing a performance or tweeting, no matter how small one’s audience might be.
Walsh: I personally believe the role design plays in politics is very small. That was actually the inspiration behind the name of one of our other political project this election, “Pins Won’t Save the World.”
That said, as we saw in previous elections, sometimes the winner can come down to a few votes, and we are determined to do whatever we can to use our voices and skills as designers to remind people to register to vote and show up on election day. At the time we created these projects, Trump and Clinton were almost tied in the polls. We felt that even if we convinced a few people of this, it might be worth it. I’ve had many people write me that the projects we’ve done inspired them to register, so I guess it was successful in that regard. Thankfully in the meantime Trump has been sabotaging himself, and his ratings have plummeted after that horrifying video.
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