WashPost Puzzles at Ivanka’s ‘Prickly’ Reaction to Sexist Depiction of Her

February 6th, 2019 6:56 AM

I guess “Ivanka Barefoot and Pregnant in the Kitchen” was too on the nose.

A live “art” installation titled “Ivanka Vacuuming” has come to DC and instead of running it out of town as sexist and demeaning, as they would if it were almost any other woman, liberals are delighted.

The “participatory performance” piece by “artist” Jennifer Rubell consists of a gallery space with a giant pedestal of crumbs and carpeting where “the public is invited to throw crumbs onto the carpet, watching as [a model dressed as] Ivanka elegantly vacuums up the mess, her smile never wavering.” (Sounds like something the NEA would falling over itself to sponsor, doesn't it?)

The installation is a project of CulturalDC which raves that it’s “timely, boundary-pushing,” and Rubell gushes, “Here is what’s complicated: 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.”

Mocking Ivanka Trump – how complicated, how edgy, how brave! Can you even imagine this performance art being done as “Chelsea Vacuuming” or even “Sasha/Malia Vacuuming?”

On Tuesday, Ivanka acknowledged the art project, writing in a retweet of an article about it, “Women can choose to knock each other down or build each other up. I choose the latter.”

Sounds like a gracious response to me, but Washington Post art and architecture critic Philip Kennicott described it as an “uncharacteristically prickly remark” and a “strange Twitter hiccup.”

Kennicott seemed puzzled as to why Ivanka would take any offense to basically having dirt thrown at her smiling likeness to vacuum up, deeming her Tweet “strangely disproportionate to the artist’s provocation.”

To Kennicott, Ivanka shouldn’t be offended because “Rubell’s work certainly invites criticism, but only as part of a larger and more ambivalent contemplation of Trump’s role as a fraught female figure in American society.”

But, far from being ambivalent, he goes on to say,

In a literal but comic sense, she is doing the ‘clean up’ work that she struggles to do within the administration, which always seems to soil things — even its own efforts to dismantle political and social contracts. Is Donald Trump racist? No matter, Ivanka will clean up the mess, even as her father tweets out more dog-whistle racism. But the din of the vacuum will never mask the larger noise coming from the administration.

Kennicott says Ivanka’s Tweet “shows she’s worried she isn’t exactly succeeding in her longer-term efforts to be seen as a ‘take the high road’ voice within her father’s orbit,” speculating that Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, “tainted by the nationalist rhetoric and racial division of the administration they serve, will be pariahs within the world they left only two years ago.”

That’s concern trolling at its finest right there. 

Of course, the media and entertainment industry’s sick obsession with Ivanka Trump isn’t new. From Samantha Bee calling her a “feckless” c-word, to the NY Daily News referring to her as “Daddy’s Little Ghoul,” it’s clear that Trump Derangement Syndrome extends to anyone who shares his last name.