Artist Illma Gore on Why She Drew Donald Trump with a Small Penis
American artist and queer activist Ashley ‘Illma’ Gore became famous all over the world after she posted a picture called Make America Great Again on Facebook, which depicts a naked man with a small penis who resembles Donald Trump. Despite the fact that her account was blocked three days later, the portrait became a hit, with already 50 million views and 260,000 reposts. Today it is in the collection of the London gallery Maddox, and by some estimates is worth more than 1 million pounds.
Bird In Flight asked Ashley, how she got the idea for the painting, how Trump supporters reacted to it, and who she would agree to sell the scandalous portrait to.
— Please tell us about the history of the work. What was your inspiration?
— The story behind it is that I wish I was born male. I decided that I am still masculine despite my sex being female, as sex and identity don’t coincide at all. The idea of masculinity should not be so fragile and should exist separately from femininity, they should be two different parallel lines and not oppressing opposites on the end of one. In order to display this idea we hold about masculinity, I wanted to paint a piece where the reaction would be the art, more so than the painting.
“I guarantee there’s no problem”
Senator Marco Rubio referred to Trump as a ‘short-fingered vulgarian’. Trump later commented on this: “Look at these hands? Are these small hands? And, he referred to my hands — ‘if they’re small, something else must be small.’ I guarantee you there’s no problem.”
I asked a friend with a ‘small penis’ to pose for me and transplanted Donald Trump’s head onto his body, Trump being the conduit to the definitions we place on people because of their genitals, like ‘man’, ‘woman’.
Suddenly when you look at this piece, you’ll notice how Trump’s junk becomes the rationale for how horrible he is or an attack on his ability. It may be related to the famous thing that Marco Rubio said about the correlation between Trump’s tiny hands and his manhood. This is the prejudice I was trying to explain to my friends when I’d explain gender fluidity and woman’s equality. It’s not as interesting as an answer like ‘Trump’s a yuuuggee dick’, but it’s the truth, and I stand by it.
— What is the fate of the painting?
— It’s had quite a few offers — up to $100,000, but I refused to sell it. Now the drawing is in the collection of Maddox Gallery in London with estimate of $1 million. I think Trump should buy it.
— What do you think, who are the authors of all these abusive messages and death threats that you received after you posted the picture?
— Trump supporters, most of them identify themselves. I don’t feel safe in my home, but my lifestyle hasn’t changed. Anyone who is scared of a painted ‘small penis’ doesn’t scare me.
— But you’ve been attacked this spring. How did this happen?
— Yeah, it was in broad daylight at the end of April. I left my house and was heading to the art store on Alvira Street. Suddenly a car full of young people pulled up next to me. One of them ran up and punched me in the face as the group began to laugh and cheer the action on. The only thing I heard from the lips of the young man, was the slogan “Trump 2016!”.
Had I known about the meeting happening nearby, I probably would have stayed home. The blow to my face is not a grand hoax or performance art, no. It is indicative of this election, how Trump is inciting violence and splitting America apart.
— Describe your attitude to Trump in one word.
— But why are his ideas so popular?
— Equality must feel like oppression for most Trump supporters. I believe they like the ‘idea’ of what he represents, unfortunately he’s a dangerous racist bigot with a orange marshmallow exterior.
— Are you going to vote in November? Who will you be voting for?
— I will vote in November, I will be voting for a leader not a party or a penis.