It was an artist making an ethical statement.
But he chose perhaps the most divisive and polarising subject matter of our time to make his point. And the artist has been pilloried for it.
“People say they are offended, it’s very peculiar,” says Papamoa artist, Alex Miln. ‘It’ is his work called ‘Wham and the truth is gone’ – a satirical, no punches pulled, 3D cartoonish work lampooning President Donald Trump.
It’s a signpost of how Trump and his cohorts escaped any accountability for paying off porn actress and stripper Stormy Daniels and his business dealings with Russia before the election. “It was like he just used Wham and all the filth, all his problems and scandals, were washed down the drain. Gone!”
It will be one of 16 Miln pieces that go up in the prestigious Wellington waterfront gallery next Wednesday – an exhibition entitled ‘No Vital Signs’. Hugely exciting for the artist, a real opportunity.
And while the political capital is not afraid of political artwork, elsewhere, and particularly here in Tauranga, people he feels are a bit angsty about it. “You would be surprised,” says Alex. “It’s like some of my critics voted for him, that Trump’s actually a nice guy, that he’s the second Messiah. Very peculiar.
“And they tell me they are genuinely offended by the work.”
So be it – because Alex Miln is not offended by their being offended. “No, if the artist is doing his job, people will either love it or hate it. If people are neither here nor there, they’re not talking about it, then the work must be mediocre.”
There are two more pieces – ‘Credit Crunch’ and ‘Credit Squeeze’.
“Few New Zealanders will remember or understand sub-prime mortgages, but they sure knew about the global financial crisis which followed,” says Alex. Sub-prime mortgages were granted to people with low credit rating and didn’t qualify for conventional mortgages. “They were essentially dud products but got triple-A ratings. So who rates the raters? An interesting question.”
The artist saw the credit crunch as being hugely unfair to masses of middle-class populations everywhere. Alex has committed that unfairness to canvas in his own acerbic way.
When his Wellington exhibition is over, the Papamoa artist will focus his satirical artwork on some domestic issues that have been grating away at him.
“You have been spared so far, but RotoVegas is coming.”
What he calls the exploitation of a people in the name of tourism. “I will be asking some questions about land issues and how we have exploited Rotorua for financial gain, treated local people as some sort of circus phenomena.”
The ‘100% Pure New Zealand’ branding is something else he wants to have a crack at. “God! We have done a great job of trashing out country.”
He’s an artists with a deep social conscience who believes there needs to be more accountability.