With the ongoing government shutdown officially the longest in US history, President Donald Trump seems no closer to raising the $5.7 billion he claims he needs to build a border wall. (You know, the one he insisted Mexico would pay for.)
Enter Chicago architecture firm New World Design, which has launched a GoFundMe campaign to build it for him. But there is a twist: They plan to start by building a prototype surrounding the Mar-a-Lago resort and golf club, Trump’s so-called Winter White House in Palm Beach, Florida.
On one side, the “wall” is designed to resemble a traditional white picket fence—albeit 30 feet tall—to reference a time when America was “great.” (It is rendered in Trump’s favorite color: gold.) The design will allow “the bad guys on the other side” to “look through and imagine the riches and moral integrity of being American,” the project website dryly explains.
As you may have already guessed, the firm, which previously attempted to fly four golden, pig-shaped balloons above the Chicago River to obscure the Trump name on the Windy City’s Trump Tower, is hardly a supporter of the president. (The Pink Floyd-inspired Chicago Fiver Folly, titled Flying Pigs on Parade, was ultimately scuttled by Chicago officials.)
“Early in the presidency, there was a movement in the architecture community to discourage ‘real’ design solutions for the wall. Here we have taken an opposite approach, seeking a design that parallels the thoughtlessness and absurdity of a 2,000-mile-long border wall,” said Erich Stenzel, a principal at New World Design, in a statement. “The resulting design is quite outlandish—and entirely the wrong thing for America!”
In a “design therapy session,” the firm “looked back across the spectrum of Trump’s statements and positions, selected the most irrational among them, then transformed them into architecture,” explained New World Design principle Jeffrey Roberts.
The result is bitter satire mixed with a kind of architectural magical realism. On the US side, the wall looks like a gold picket fence. On the Mexico side, it is lethally electrified—”to keep out the droves of bad hombres,” explains the project website—and powered by six new coal power plants, deepening America’s Trump-approved reliance on environmentally harmful fossil fuels. The project press release is titled “US-Mexico Border Wall: A Study in Absurdity.”
The architects were inspired to create their parody campaign, which has a goal of $570 million—the full $5.7 billion would exceed GoFundMe’s campaign goal limits—by the all-too-serious crowdfunding efforts of Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage, who raised $20 million toward his goal of $1 billion to fund the border wall.
(Folfage initially promised that “100% of your donations will go to the Trump Wall,” but then pivoted, announcing the money would instead be used to build the wall through a private company, We Build the Wall, Inc. GoFundMe will be refunding donors’ money, unless they opt into this alternate use for the funds, reports CBS.)
For their part, New World Design has pledged to donate all money raised to the International Refugee Assistance Program when they inevitably fail to secure permission to build the Mar-a-Lago prototype.
The project, of course, is less about the actual design than it is a call to action. “Our proposals may be tongue-in-cheek,” said Roberts, who personally kicked off the donations with a $500 pledge, “but the goal of conveying a meaningful statement about our government’s current activities is very real.”
Follow artnet News on Facebook:
Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.