Before she stepped into her White House role, Ivanka Trump developed her brand as a working mother. But a frequent criticism lobbed her way is that she doesn't have to contend with everything that most working mothers do — like the constant stream of household chores — because of her financial privilege. A recently-opened Ivanka Trump-themed art exhibition in Washington D.C., however, will allow visitors to imagine Trump cleaning up a mess and ask them to reflect on what they're witnessing.
"Inspired by a figure whose public persona incorporates an almost comically wide range of feminine identities — daughter, wife, mother, sister, model, working woman, blonde," reads the description of the exhibition on the website of CulturalDC, the space where visitors can see it in action. "Ivanka Vacuuming is simultaneously a visual celebration of a contemporary feminine icon; a portrait of our own relationship to that figure; and a questioning of our complicity in her role-playing."
If you make it to see "Ivanka Vacuuming" before its closing date of Feb. 17, you'll have the opportunity to throw crumbs onto a carpet, where an actor resembling Ivanka Trump will quickly vacuum them up, as The Hill described. The walls, the carpet, and the Trump doppelganger's dress are all pink.
The woman behind this piece of performative art is Jennifer Rubell, a New York-based conceptual artist who has made a career out of interactive art exhibits, according to the CulturalDC press release on "Ivanka Vacuuming." Rubell's comments on the work encourage visitors to think about the piece more deeply than just the image of Trump cleaning.
“Here is what’s complicated: we enjoy throwing the crumbs for Ivanka to vacuum. That is the icky truth at the center of the work. It’s funny, it’s pleasurable, it makes us feel powerful, and we want to do it more,” Rubell said of the work, according to the press release. “We like having the power to elicit a specific and certain response. Also, we know she’ll keep vacuuming whether we do it or not, so it’s not really our fault, right?”
The exhibition drew immediate condemnation from supporters of Ivanka on Twitter and elsewhere, who claimed that the installation was demeaning and anti-feminist.
"The left has no respect for women... Unbelievable," Women for Trump tweeted on Tuesday. "Not only is this disgraceful and humiliating towards Ivanka, but it is humiliating to the woman that has been hired to impersonate Ivanka. What kind of society have we become?!?"
In Rubell's view, however, the crux of the piece lies in how the viewers relate with it and the femininity it portrays.
"You're participating in this act of subjugation, that's true. It puts the viewer in a very complicated position," Rubell told Refinery29. "And I'm most interested in the complications of the viewer; how they decide to engage with this feminine figure. What does it mean to either throw crumbs, or stand there watching other people throwing crumbs?"
If you want to see it yourself, you'll have to plan carefully, since the spectacle will only be on display from 6 to 8 p.m. every night until Feb. 17.