Artist Jennifer Rubell Is Inviting Audiences to Throw Crumbs at an Ivanka Trump Lookalike While She Vacuums Them Up

The performance runs through February 17 in Washington, DC.

Jennifer Rubell's Ivanka Vacuuming. Photo: Ryan Maxwell Photography.

If you find yourself in downtown Washington, DC, in the next couple of weeks, you might have the surreal experience of encountering someone who looks a lot like Ivanka Trump, complete with coiffed blonde tresses and a pink fitted sheath. Except this Ivanka is the creation of artist Jennifer Rubell, and she’s pushing a vacuum cleaner around a pink carpet in a gallery with a smile plastered on her face, sucking up a mess being generated by an audience that is invited to throw crumbs at her.

Jennifer Rubell’s Ivanka Vacuuming. Photo: Ryan Maxwell Photography.

Rubell’s Ivanka Vacuuming, which is on display as part of Cultural DC’s 20th anniversary season, positions the First Daughter in an awkwardly vulnerable position. The audience, too, is recast as participants in her subjugation, toeing the line between interactive art and complicity.

The work fits squarely within the artist’s provocative oeuvre. Last February, she invited gallery visitors to smash pie in her face after signing a consent form as part of her piece Consent (2018), which was inspired by the #MeToo movement and the attending discussions about gender and power dynamics.

Artist Jennifer Rubell. Photo: Ryan Maxwell Photography.

In the case of Ivanka Vacuuming, these same tensions arise. In a statement ahead of the show’s opening, Rubell empathizes with what the audience will inevitably feel: “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.”

Ivanka Vacuuming runs from today through February 17 in Cultural DC’s former Flashpoint Gallery at 916 G Street. And if you can’t make it in person, a livestream will be broadcast each evening from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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