Do you want to know the date and time of when you will die? I don’t, personally. Well, maybe I’d like to know the year, so that way I can make sure to accomplish all my goals (go to TomTom, see Grand Canyon, handstand [?]) and publicly humiliate all my nemeses (Rachel) before my soul goes whooshing out of my wasted body.
On the subject of death and humiliation, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is taking place in National Harbor, Maryland, this week. Its attractions include “celebrities” like former Breitbart editor and White House adviser Sebastian Gorka and far-right commentator Candace Owens, a life-size cardboard cutout of Turning Point USA founder and noted screamer Charlie Kirk, and this enormous painting of Donald Trump’s head next to a bald eagle carrying an American flag into space.
The painting, entitled “Unafraid and Unashamed,” was created by artist Julian Raven in the summer of 2015, according to Raven’s website devoted to the painting, https://thetrumppainting.com. Raven writes that he had a vision of the painting on July 9, 2015, when he was looking at a picture of Trump online, and that he saw “an American flag falling to the ground and an eagle swoop in snatching/rescuing the flag as the words ‘Unafraid And Unashamed’ as if on a ticker-tape pass along the screen of my mind.”
“Daily the vision would be present,” Raven writes in the “Inspiration” section of the website, “the image of Trump’s face the Bald Eagle snatching the falling flag. Three elements and a snatching scenario that played over and over again.”
Raven says he spent almost 600 hours working on the painting at his studio in Elmira, New York, finally finishing on September 27. It is eight feet tall, 16 feet wide, weighs 300 pounds, and includes details like a huge wall between the U.S. and Mexico on the globe, and the image of a fetus hidden in the flag. For a peek into Raven’s process, you can watch this video, set to synth-heavy club music.
“Unafraid and Unashamed” was first unveiled at a local Trump rally on November 1, 2015, and later displayed at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July 2016. It was, however, rejected by the National Portrait Gallery, which would not display it for President Trump’s inauguration. Raven is currently suing the Smithsonian Institute for inhibiting his right to free speech.
Back to my original question: Do you want to know the time and date of when you will die? Again, I don’t. But gazing upon this piece — the painstaking re-creation of Trump’s Twitter avatar, the eagle zooming angrily through space with a flag that appears to be one foot wide and 18 feet long, the Statue of Liberty, now 900,000 feet tall, standing on top of the Atlantic — I can’t help but feel like Naomi Watts watching that video of Samara in The Ring. I keep watching my phone, waiting for it to ring and for a ghostly voice to tell me I have seven days. And I wonder: Can I get to TomTom by next Thursday?
Happy CPAC 2019.