There is a summer tour in Chicago that takes visitors to see the city’s biggest disasters caused by “human folly.” It goes to the site of the Battle of Dearborn, the 1915 Eastland disaster that took 800 lives – and the Trump International Hotel and Tower.
This summer the building and its giant signage, that a lot of people in Chicago dislike – amplified by Trump’s controversial move into politics and election as president – will be the site of an unusual protest designed to block the name “Trump” for at least one day.
A Chicago design firm plans a stunt in front of the building. They are going to float four giant hot air balloons in the shape of golden pigs off a river barge that will effectively block the view of the Trump name, “to provide visual relief to the city of Chicago.”
Margaret Hicks, who runs the summer “folly” tour said she objects to the Trump sign because, “The buildings talk to each other, and the sign is interrupting the conversation.”
A commentator to an article on DNAInfo.com said: “The sign is vulgar and a misrepresentation of Chicago. It’s like if I came to your home and hung a giant neon sign in your front room that simply said ‘Masturbation.’ The sign is masturbatory, erected only to serve the ego of the man who elected to put it there – Donald Trump.”
The choice of a pig is inspired by swine depicted on the cover of Pink Floyd’s 1970’s “Animals” album. Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters and designer Sean Evans have both signed off on the use of the pigs for this project.
The use of Pink Floyd’s version of the pig, combined with the city of Chicago’s history of disliking and protesting Trump, will hit the president where it hurts him most – his ego.
The original inspiration was Algie the pig depicted in George Orwell’s 1945 book, “Animal Farm,” an allegorical novel based on the events around the Russian revolution and the subsequent reign of terror under Stalin.
Jeffrey Roberts, a partner in the firm behind the stunt, New World Design, told the Chicago Tribune that the use of Orwell’s pig image is to bring Orwell’s message to the modern day: “It’s a commentary on the ridiculous nature of how politics have gotten in D.C.”
While denying he or his firm are activists, Roberts added that this is “a design response to this scenario (in which) we have to live.”
One of the complaints about the 98-story building from even before Trump was elected has to do with the 20 foot tall, 141-foot wide sign that is about 200 feet above the ground on the southwest facade, reading “Trump” in backlit steel letters, It is on the side of the building facing the Chicago River.
In Las Vegas, it might be considered an accomplishment, but in Chicago which as a history of great architecture and more modest signs, it has been the subject of controversy ever since it was first proposed in 2009 at an even bigger size. After heated negotiations with two Chicago mayors, it finally evolved into its current form.
During the election last year Trump was scheduled to speak in downtown Chicago not far from his building but there were such huge, intense protests, his visit was canceled.
In December, protesters massed in the street in front of the tower awaiting the arrival of Trump on one of his post-election victory tour stops. The Chicago City Council that week voted to remove the sign in front that designated it as Trump Plaza after he compared Chicago to a “war-torn country” in a presidential debate.
The sign is still there because the city says it is a low priority project.
New World told The Architects Newspaper that the choice of the golden pigs is symbolic and that they intend their stunt to “encourage folly viewers to listen and make their own interpretations.”
“The gold color is a reference to Trump’s frequent use of gold in his branding and interior deign,” continued the Architect’s article. “Directed eastward, towards Washington, D.C., there is one pig for each year Trump will be in office.”
It will cost about $100,000 for the one day stunt, but New World is trying to raise $250,000 to cover anticipated security costs. If any money is left over, New World said it will donate the funds to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
New World Design is still working out final details of the plan with city officials and has promised not to block summer traffic on the river. The date is still to be finalized.
This is one time not seeing the ubiquitous name Trump will make everyone think about Trump and all that he has done to Chicago, and to America.