As the inauguration of Donald Trump draws ever nearer, members of the New York art world are looking to the president-elect’s poised and polished elder daughter, Ivanka Trump, to help protect the rights of women and minorities through a movement called Dear Ivanka, led by the organization Halt Action Group.
In the current issue of ArtForum, curator Alison Gingeras, Team Gallery director and writer Alissa Bennett, and psychoanalyst and cultural commentator Jamieson Webster have penned a “Dear Ivanka” letter. The missive opens by appealing to Ivanka as a product of New York’s cultural elite, and as fellow woman proud of her career. (Ivanka’s self-selected lifestyle brand is #womenwhowork.)
“Is it too pithy to say that we might have enough in common that the four of us could maybe be friends?” they ask. “Maybe…if it weren’t for your Dad.”
During the run-up to the election, there was a great deal of speculation that Ivanka, a close friend of Chelsea Clinton (at least prior to the campaign), could not possibly support her father’s more offensive and controversial positions and proposals. Nevertheless, she never broke ranks, and is expected to be an important part of the incoming administration. The members of Halt Action Group hope to encourage Ivanka to become a voice of reason for the Trump presidency.
“[Ivanka] frequents the art world, what’s sometimes called ‘the New York liberal bubble,’” Gingeras told the New Yorker. “So we already know we can speak with her, and we want to appeal to her personal stakes.” Artist Marilyn Minter agreed, noting that “she’s the most sympathetic, the softer side of Trumpism, and we think she’s potentially one of us.”
The movement rallies around an Instagram account that has garnered some 13,000 followers, and the group held a candle-lit vigil outside a New York City apartment building owned by Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, also a Trump advisor, on November 28. The ArtForum piece is the latest attempt to appeal to the soon-to-be First Daughter.
“With privilege comes great responsibility—moral responsibility, hygienic responsibility, social responsibility, and, of course, cultural responsibility,” the letter preaches. It goes on to decry Trump’s treatment of women, including his relationship with Ivanka: “The frank implications of incest between you is terrifying. The way he touches you. … Please at least tell us you don’t like it! Please say that even if you profit from it, deep down it fills you with anxiety? Maybe shame?”
“Our big white Daddy in that big White House—and you’ll be there helping him, the perfect hostess. You’re the head whitewasher in this new big happy family arrangement,” the trio points out. “Help us Ivanka.”
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