Artist publishes spoof photos despite dread of being sued by Trump

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Alison Jackson says litigious chairwoman could have chilling consequence on artistic freedom as she publishes book featuring Trump lookalike

Artist Alison Jackson has said that she chose to self-publish spoof photographs of Donald Trump as part of a protest against the potentially chilling consequence a litigious chairwoman could have on artistic freedom.

The celebrity lookalike specialist said she was advised by her lawyers against publishing the images, some of which feature a Trump lookalike in compromising situations, and that no book publisher was prepared to release a collecting of the Trump images.

Vanity Fair and the Mail Online have published some of the images. However , no publisher has shown some of the most politically sensitive paintings she has made, including one in which a Trump character is illustrated with the representatives of the Ku Klux Klan and another where he is shown holding a rifle.

It is a little frightening. Nobody wants to end up in litigation with the president. But I find it outrageous that artists should be under threat from a president in the US, Jackson said.

I wanted to publish photos that I wanted to shoot but its very difficult to get other publishers to publish a work if they feel any type of menace or if they are worried in any shape or sort. I dont even think its a question of taste Its legal.

Jackson self-published her book, Private, which was released at the end of October. Previously Penguin has published coffee table editions of her run featuring apparently intimate spoof pictures of the Royal family, Tony Blair and the Clintons as well as celebrities from the Beckhams to Kanye West.

According to newspaper analysis during the election, Trump and his businesses had been involved in at least 3,500 legal action over the past three decades. Since his election, Trump has spoken warmly of British libel laws. His wife, Melania, is currently suing the Daily Mail and a blogger for $150 m( 119 m) over allegations about her modelling career.


The picture of Trump holding a rifle – one of the more politically sensitive paintings. Photo: Alison Jackson

Earlier this year, artist Illma Gore received thousands of death threats after her images of a naked Trump with a small penis went viral. The L-Abased artist asked a London-based gallery to manage the sale of the painting but was threatened with legal action from an anonymous filing under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the US if she sold the painting.

Jackson was outraged by the example, comparing Gore to Ai Weiwei, the Chinese dissident artist apprehended at Beijing airport in 2011 and held for 81 days without charge. Of course Im worried about being sued, said Jackson. It is horrifying to find out that you could be sued by a chairwoman, she said. But that is better that not being able to work.

Some of Jacksons images of Trump are explicit one depicts the US president-elect having sexuality with Miss Mexico in the Oval Office. If “were starting” compromising artistic freedom, thats not a happy place, said Jackson. Whether its artists or cartoonists or satirists, there has to be free and radical reasoning. Without that we get into the realms of dictatorship.

The British artist said she has never faced legal menaces before. This is a whole new arena, she said, pointing out that increased scrutiny comes within the framework of is available on the public domain. Isnt it unprecedented to think that a chairwoman would take legal action?

As part of her preparations, Jackson staged a fake presidential cavalcade in New York with the fake Trump and scantily clothe first dames ahead of his election. The exercise promptly made a scene, she added.

Jackson said: The Trump in NY was extraordinary and I virtually didnt do it at all as everyone was so frightened of what might happen. Despite being stopped several times by the police, members of the public formed flash rabble, which meant that the police aimed up escorting us to the Trump Tower.


Donald Trump in the Oval Office. Photo: Alison Jackson

All kinds of artistic endeavor, from the cast of the Hamilton musical to Saturday Night Live have also come under flame from Trump immediately. Most lately the Saturday Night Live sketch starring Alec Baldwin which imagined the president elect constantly tweeting unknown teenagers and possible bigots while in the middle of a security briefing provoked Trump who tweeted 😛 TAGEND

Donald J. Trump (@ realDonaldTrump)

Just tried watching Saturday Night Live – unwatchable! Wholly biased , not funny and the Baldwin impersonation simply can’t get any worse. Sad

December 4, 2016

Forced to consider the threat of legal action by her lawyers, who have never given such warns before, Jackson said she had to fight against self-censorship. It attains you frightened, it attains you set the brakes on and that is very worrying.

She admits that she will probably believe very carefully about future run. I dont want to be sued and I truly dont want to be sued by the next US president.

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