You my recall this past Easter someone erected an ominous grave marker for Donald Trump. Though many wish Trump would just die already, it was not a genuine grave site but rather one mischievous artist’s straightforward commentary on the dangerous bullshit the presidential candidate promotes, as made evident by the tombstone’s epitaph: “Made America Hate Again.”
We chatted via email with the artist behind the piece (who, for obvious reasons, preferred to remain anonymous). The artist also confirmed the work’s name: “The Legacy Stone.”
What can you tell me a bit about the idea behind the tombstone?
It was conceived after careful contemplation on the character of Mr. Trump. I felt the need to provide him with a compelling visual to portray how recent behavior will affect how he is remembered. I thought that aside from any type of protest, something substantial like this had the potential to ring through the noise. The piece had a purposely open date of death to remind Mr. Trump that there may be time to change his narrative.
The epitaph was straight to the point; a direct play on his election slogan.
In terms of the date of operation, I felt that Easter had a lot of symbolic relevance for the artwork. The day Jesus was resurrected, the day The Legacy Stone was erected and the day Trump was given an opportunity to re-imagine himself. Strangely, his daughter, Ivanka, gave birth on that same day.
What made you want to comment on this election specifically?
The Legacy Stone is not motivated by the election per se, it’s motivated by Donald Trump. This man has been fanning the flames of hatred in our country, provoking violence, xenophobia, racism, sexism and bigotry. In my opinion, this is the worst form of terrorism and is a much more dangerous threat than ISIS. This is a man who has the potential to destroy the whole of our accomplishments, from the inside. The list of incomprehensible attacks and misinformed opinions by a candidate is unparalleled in any election cycle. As a human being, a representative of the United States and especially as an artist, you have to stand up and speak your mind.
Have you done this sort of work before?
In terms of guerilla-style works of art, yes, I have a long history of creating such works. This, however, is the first politically charged work that I have completed.
How did you pull it off logistically, without getting caught?
Due to the immense weight of the stone (over 1,000 lbs.), I needed to get a commercial truck with a lift gate to transport it. I had a team assembled by the park for when I arrived. The team helped guide me through the park, assuring that the coast was clear. I dropped the stone right before sunrise, and we took photos of the Easter morning sun rising over it.
Why did you chose that site for the piece?
I had considered numerous locations for the stone, but the one spot that kept coming back to me was Central Park. It seemed like the obvious place for an egomaniac, and someone who had branded his name so closely with NYC. The placement was also extremely close to Trump Towers at Central Park West. Another fun fact is that Trump has “Central Park” trademarked, something the city is not too happy about.
How do you feel about the online response. Do you think people “got it?”
There is a huge diversity of interpretations and opinions, which I think is great. The piece has been called everything from a brilliant piece of guerilla art to a blatant death threat (which prompted secret service and police investigations). It kind of mirrors the current state of affairs in our country, which seems to be increasingly divided. All of the right-leaning publications denounced the stone and the left-leaning publications applauded it.
Do you believe the piece was successful?
I believe the piece was highly successful. I think it captured the current mood of the election perfectly. I know that Donald has received images and information on the stone, and I hope he continues to contemplate its meaning.