As Election Day draws near, the art community has decided to team up with voters to raise awareness about Donald Trump’s activity as President since 2016. As a result, a 50-foot by 10-foot-long outdoor mural has appeared at 12 Grattan Street in the neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York. The “Wall of Lies’, as it has been called, displays more than 20,000 false or misleading claims by Donald Trump, entirely fact-checked by the Washington Post. Director of Radio Free Brooklyn, Tom Tenney and local visual artist, Phil Buehler are the masterminds behind this project, who originally planned to broadcast all the president’s lies during his stay in office, a week before the election. Needless to say, the result is striking.
The “Wall of Lies” outside Pine Box Rock Shop in Bushwick
Photo by radiofreebrooklyn.com
Each lie is displayed in a chronological order and is color-coded by category. Different shades of orange refer to the election and economy, dark and bright yellow concern Ukraine probe and Russia, while green relates to trade and coronavirus. Moreover, different hues of blue and purple cover immigration, jobs, foreign policy, crime, health care, environment and taxes and ultimately, red indicates biographical record. Gray marks miscellaneous lies, as if the color could ironically underline the grey zone in which the President’s falsehoods dwell.
Unexpectedly, on the morning of October 8th it has been discovered that the work had been vandalized during the night with pro-Trump slogans, including “Vote Trump or Die” and “Stand Back and Stand by”, the infamous motto of the Proud Boys, a far-right group linked to white supremacy and violence and currently sustaining the president’s re-election. Thus, the creators have set up an account on gofundme.com to start a fundraiser to restore the wall and find a more secure location.
The active participation of the art community in America records the instability of the political future of the country, one month away from the presidential election on November 3rd, and also plays a pivotal role in sharing information about the ongoing Trump’s campaign. “Rememberwhattheydid.com” is the artistic project created by Robin Bell, Scott Goodstein and the network “Artists united for change”, a registered political action committee, whose purpose is to keep voters informed and remind people what officials have said and done. They mainly operate through the merchandising of posters, stickers, t-shirts, masks and billboards ( some of them can be seen in Detroit, Pittsburgh and Cleveland).
Billboard in Cleveland / photo by rememberwhattheydid.com
Their mission is to actively encourage viewers to remember what politicians did and what they stand for. They also mobilize the community to pledge to #VoteThemOut in November. As stated on their website, “art will be displayed on various outdoor advertising locations in African American, Latinx, and young voter neighborhoods. The campaign targets non traditional voters with billboards, posters, digital billboards and more. The artists’ messages will be amplified by community partnerships, earned media and social media.”
The popularity and effectiveness of this action is paralleled by the strikingly offensive statements of the president on the billboards, such as “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” or “Even if the world goes to hell in a handbasket, I won’t lose a penny”. This hymn to factual truths, science and human rights not only stirs people’ consciences but it also places itself in a broader discourse about the role of art in the urban landscape. Indeed, art becomes a media for critical intervention and occupies a prominent position in the mediated images of a city, creating a compelling existence of artistic speech and commercial speech. The “wall of lies” is no longer a mere account of Trump’s falsehoods but it also becomes the banner of political action and a powerful counterpart that ideologically defeats the president’s attempt to block out people, and more specifically, truth. piece is created to actively encourage viewers to remember what these politicians did, and what they stand for. It mobilizes us to pledge to #VoteThemOut in November.