Table of Con­tents | Arti­cle doi: 10.17742/IMAGE.SA.12.1.13 | PDF

This image is neither decorative nor strictly available for simple denotative description. Our project rejects captions altogether. The spirit of this project is very much one of uncertainty and imagination. We hope that anyone with visual impairments will glean information from the written compositions.

Have you ever found your­self in the throes of a project and won­dered, “What the hell am I doing?” That was me at hour five of what would be eight hours of scrap­ing and peel­ing thir­ty feet of 24” x 36” posters off a brick wall in down­town Wind­sor, Ontario.

The posters are part of my project, Trump­grabs or: How I Learned to Stop Wor­ry­ing and Love My Exis­ten­tial Fear, which is an evolv­ing archive and pub­lic-art­work cat­a­logu­ing the over­whelm­ing news alerts I receive on my phone’s lock-screen since Don­ald Trump’s inau­gu­ra­tion in 2017. For Struc­tures of Antic­i­pa­tion, I installed the archive of 1,100 screen­shots in three loca­tions in Wind­sor and Detroit. And, in a move that some questioned—which in my naivete I claimed was ethical—I promised the landown­ers I would remove the works at the end of the symposium.

Fast for­ward to the de-install: near­ly in tears with hands ripped raw, I was peel­ing small bits of paper with myho­tel key­card from Com­fort Suites Wind­sor and deflect­ing drunks who were ask­ing, “Why are you sand­ing a brick wall?” That morn­ing, I thought this process would only take an hour. I brought a buck­et of warm water and a spray bot­tle, and launched myself into a process of wet­ting the posters and gen­tly peel­ing them from the wall. But with each round of sat­u­rat­ing, the posters wouldn’t budge, with only small frag­ments peel­ing away.

Antic­i­pa­tion is a hoax. There are many things we can antic­i­pate; I knew that it was going to be a humid day. I brought water and snacks in case the de-install took more than an hour. YouTube told me that I need­ed to soak the posters in soapy warm water. I brought a buck­et of warm water. We can guess what will hap­pen to our future selves. We can make plans to mit­i­gate future issues, but the major­i­ty of dai­ly life is beyond the reach of antic­i­pa­tion. And, if we could actu­al­ly antic­i­pate all the facets of our lives, we would like­ly fall into some antic­i­pa­to­ry exis­ten­tial hole.

Don­ald Rums­feld, the archi­tect of the sec­ond Iraq war, said this about antic­i­pa­tion (or the Bush Administration’s inabil­i­ty to find weapons of mass destruc­tion in Iraq in 2002): “[…] as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”1 I, my friends, while in the pur­ga­to­ry of peel­ing, was deeply in the unan­tic­i­pat­ed ter­ri­to­ry of unknown unknowns.

Pos­si­bly I could have antic­i­pat­ed this. But this antic­i­pa­to­ry void is part of the messi­ness of the artis­tic process. I also don’t have any beau­ti­ful­ly pack­aged wis­dom or grand ideas on art for you. All I know is that I am deeply in the known unknown ter­ri­to­ry with Trump­grabs. And, I’m ok with this. I think.


  1. Quot­ed in David A. Gra­ham, “Rumsfeld’s Knowns and Unknowns: The Intel­lec­tu­al His­to­ry of a Quip.” https://​www​.the​at​lantic​.com/​p​o​l​i​t​i​c​s​/​a​r​c​h​i​v​e​/​2​0​1​4​/​0​3​/​r​u​m​s​f​e​l​d​s​-​k​n​o​w​n​s​-​a​n​d​-​u​n​k​n​o​w​n​s​-​t​h​e​-​i​n​t​e​l​l​e​c​t​u​a​l​-​h​i​s​t​o​r​y​-​o​f​-​a​-​q​u​i​p​/​3​5​9​7​19/ (accessed 31/1/2021)