By now you’ve heard the sensational news of five Donald Trump statues, The Emperor Has No Balls, that were placed around the country. If you haven’t heard about it, you can read about it in Slate, the Daily Beast and in the The Washington Post – just to name a few. Even Chris Hodapp, over at Freemasons for Dummies, made a mention of it (taking no public sides in the political debate) on the day the statues appeared.
As strange as the appearance of this statue was, even stranger was the inclusion of a Masonic Ring on the nude presidential contender, rendering a strange message on an even stranger figure upon which to associate it. The inclusion reminded me of a certain car commercial that ran during a certain super football game in 2013 with a devilish Willem DaFoe (you can read about it here and here) sporting the square and compass on his finger which ended up garnering nearly 3000 signatures to have the image removed.
And yet, here we have another example of the iconic square and compass stealthy sneaking its way back into the material culture*, now poised eloquently on one of the most in-eloquent of presidential candidates in an unflattering of pose. Alas, the Hans Christian Andersen appellation of the Emperor Has No Clothes is perhaps one allegorical tale to be told about the presidential contender. But, an emperor without balls, wearing a Masonic Ring? The only question I can imagine on the minds of most Freemasons (after the obvious statement of how ludicrous it is) is …why? Why a Masonic ring on a naked Donald Trump?
I wondered that too. So, I asked the artist behind the statue “Ginger” (aka Joshua Monroe), why. Why a naked Donald Trump wearing only a Masonic Ring?
I should probably say that replicas of the sculpture, which are now priced at $10,000 with multiple buyers lining up, was a commissioned piece by the activist collective Indecline. In a recent press release, Indecline says “Museums in Miami (Wynwood), Germany, Arizona and California have also contacted INDECLINE in attempts to secure Trump statues for gallery shows.” The statue (and by circumstance, the ring upon it) further seeps into the material culture.
This was my conversation with the artist Ginger about it.
GS: A masonic ring is a pretty unique thing to have on hand, even for an artist. After watching the making of video where you cast the model (at bottom), was the ring the models or something you had on hand in your studio?
Ginger: It was not very hard to acquire the ring. Then the model was not [a mason] as I believe most Mason’s would want nothing to do with a project like this. I meant absolutely no disrespect to the Masons but they are the world’s most recognizable secret society.
GS: It’s an interesting juxtaposition, the naked figure clad only in a Masonic square and compass ring. The Washington Post mentioned that it represented his (Trumps) access to secret or elitist power (attributing to the artist “emblematic of privilege, secret handshakes and cloistered groups of powerful people”). I’m curious, as an artist, is that a real part of the philosophy you see in [Trump] or just a design element meant to connect disparate elements into a new reality? Was the inclusion of the ring just a “secret society” prop, or did you mean to link the “naked emperor” with a Masonic ring as his only garment (which itself has a strangely symbolic reverse meaning within Freemasonry)?
Ginger: The reason that I myself chose to put the Masonic ring into the sculpture was to symbolize the fact that Donald Trump, who I know is not a mason, is most definitely involved in secret dealings and secret societies that the general public will never be aware of.
My grandfather was a high-ranking mason. I myself, being a legacy, have been asked to join several times by several members. As far as owning the Mason’s ring there’s actually artist and vendors that sell them on the street.
GS: Having a background in art, I think I understand how the ring is being used, but I know that a huge community of Freemasons are just dumbstruck (if not outright offended) at its use. Knowing that it’s the artist prerogative to choose what goes in or stays out of a piece is their own, I wonder what your thought is about how the community-at-large reads or interprets the association? Do you have any thought on how the community of Freemasons would interpret the inclusion? (Do you care or does it matter?)?
Ginger: I considered it a very tongue and cheek wink to the secret societies and their Quest To Rule The World. I have many friends who are masons and they joke about their meetings being held Pinky and the Brain style to try and take over the world. But it’s mostly crappy food that their wives have made. I myself have done lots of Charity and volunteer work and that’s why I’ve been approached by Masons I respect what you do and I hope you guys are not offended.
GS: I’m curious, do you see Trump as an emperor with no cloths because of what he’s done before the election or because he’s running now? Do you think it’s that secret access that makes him so naked?
Ginger: The title of the installment was actually set in stone long before the collective even found me as an artist.
The overall concept and look was their idea and their political statement. I am just the artist who brought it to life. However it was my idea to add the Mason ring not to insult Masons but [it] suggests his involvement in secret societies.
Also the saggy inflamed butt was my idea.
And there you have it.
*Material culture is defined as: the physical evidence of a culture in the objects and architecture they make, or have made. The term tends to be relevant only in archaeological and anthropological studies, but it specifically means all material evidence which can be attributed to culture, past or present.
From Wikipedia, Material Culture.