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Artist Projects Emoluments Clause Onto Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.

The emoluments clause of the Constitution projected onto the facade of Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. (igorvolsky / Twitter)
Emma Niles
Assistant Editor
Emma Niles, an assistant editor at Truthdig, graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a degree in political science. She has worked for the National Women’s Law Center and Ms. Magazine.…
Emma Niles

The emoluments clause of the Constitution projected onto the facade of Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. (igorvolsky / Twitter)

Viewers around the country were shocked and delighted by a series of projections cast onto the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Monday night. The projections included such phrases as “Pay Trump Bribes Here” and the emoluments clause of the Constitution:

The emoluments clause, also known as the Title of Nobility Clause, states:

No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.

Critics have argued that President Trump is in violation of this clause, and the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a lawsuit against Trump earlier this year, alleging he has violated this clause because his businesses accept payments from foreign governments.

Artist Robin Bell is responsible for the projections, which quickly went viral. “We had a really great moment tonight with this projection,” Bell told the Los Angeles Times. “This double-decker tour bus pulls up to the Trump hotel and everyone starts taking photos and clapping and people are cheering us.”

Bell explained why he works with projections:

[T]here isn’t all that much the authorities can do about it.

“When we first started doing it, we were concerned and we reached out for legal advice,” Bell says. “But from the research we did, it was legal. The one thing we can’t do is block traffic. We can’t create an impediment on the sidewalk.”

Bell even has a specially outfitted van that can do mobile projections.

“Tonight we got really lucky and we had a great parking spot,” he says — one that allowed him and a team of friends who regularly pitch in on the actions to perfectly align a series of images against Trump’s hotel.

It’s not the first time Bell has projected anti-Trump statements onto the Trump International Hotel. In November 2016, the artist projected the phrase “Experts Agree: Trump is a Pig” onto the building’s exterior.

He has used the projections to make other political statements, such as this piece opposing Scott Pruitt’s appointment to the Environmental Protection Agency:

The latest projections on Trump’s hotel were only up for about 10 minutes, but Bell is pleased that the images resonated with so many people.

“I was reading this thing about when you deal with authoritarian governments, you have to create your own story,” he told the Times. “If we’re reacting to these people all the time, they can just play us. So, part of the thing is making things that you can laugh at, that you can share, that aren’t just reacting to them.”

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