Is it possible to collect every terrible thing Donald Trump has pulled off during his four years in office? And if so … could it be done (to borrow his signature adjective) in a beautiful manner?
It’s hard to keep track of everything that’s happened since inauguration day in 2017, but artist Richard Kraft is working tirelessly to make sure Trump’s transgressions aren’t forgotten by memorializing them in a gorgeous set of four books, with each tome representing a year of his presidency.
Kraft began intensely following the news and watching Trump’s Twitter feed following the inauguration, sometimes taking hours out of his day to do so. He eventually developed a penalty card system, not unlike that which exists in soccer.
“I’d always really liked the idea of giving yellow and red cards to people, particularly politicians who behave poorly, because there’s something humorous to me about dishing out a card that has absolutely no effect,” explains Kraft in his Kickstarter video. “But there is a sense of vindication on my part in keeping track of these things. There’s this sense of you’re not getting away with it, even though I know it’s completely futile.”
The cards started with the classic yellow and red but quickly expanded to include a palette of eight: yellow for warnings; red for more severe offenses; magenta for “especially egregious transgressions”; orange for days spent playing golf; pink for those who played golf with him; dark blue for when someone from the administration was fired or resigned; and eventually purple for “Trump’s most shocking moments.” Also spaced throughout the book are teal cards representing acts of resistance, like the 2017 Women’s March and some of Dr. Anthony Fauci’s comments on COVID-19.
Kraft’s primary goal for It Is What It Is is to ask readers what they remember from these past four years and what they have gone blind to. “It Is What It Is is as much a confrontation with the facts and phenomenon of a Trump presidency as it is a monumental, informational graphic work, an artifact of these dark days, and a truly durational work of art. It marries futility with vigilance, outrage with humor, transforming toxicity into beauty.”
The books’ pages feature spreads of the colored cards laid out—a striking visual representation of wrongdoings—with corresponding text explaining each instance a card was dealt.
The Kickstarter campaign for the project has been fully funded but is currently working on a stretch goal to turn the paperback into a hardcover; it ends Nov. 4.
Oh, and the title? It was Trump’s exact response to a question about the COVID-19 death toll.
“It is what it is.”