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Did This Brooklyn Artist Release Bed Bugs at the Trump Hotel?

A scourge, a pest and very hard to get rid of, it’s safe to say that bedbugs are resoundingly disliked by those within the hospitality industry and by travelers themselves. But as Gothamist reports, it seems that these ugly bugs have now become something of an artist’s muse. They’re an integral part of a video installation by Brooklyn-based artist Duke Riley, whose latest work, Non-Essential Consultants, Inc., is being presented at Pioneer Works in New York City’s Red Hook neighborhood until November 24th.

Screenshot: Gothamist

Are There Bed Bugs at Trump’s D.C. Hotel?

At the heart of the video installation–which, according to Riley’s website, “combines narrative and documentary filmmaking”– is footage of a man who appears to be artist Duke Riley. That man has a suitcase full of what the artist has confirmed to be live bedbugs in a room that looks an awful lot like one of the rooms at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC. Then that man, whoever he is, releases those bedbugs into the hotel room.

The striking similarities were first noticed by Gothamist who asked Riley about the similarities. And Riley didn’t really answer the question, saying: “I would never personally encourage a person to infest a hotel with bedbugs and I never have. I would imagine that there are probably people out there that think about doing things like that. There are probably people out there that don’t think about doing things like that.”

It does bear mentioning that Duke Riley did release thousands of pigeons from a decommissioned naval ship in the Brooklyn Navy Yard in a public art project and that, after publication of the Gothamist article, a “spokesperson for Riley” released the following statement: “On advice of counsel, all of the events depicted in this exhibition are a speculative dramatization and do not depict actual events.”

Why Bed Bugs?

According to Riley’s website, the video portrays “an allegorical history implicating a duo of outlaw operatives responsible for a bedbug outbreak in Washington, DC.” Not to be confused with the actual bedbug outbreak in Washington, DC which has made the city one of the most bedbug-infested regions in America, according to the Department of Health.

The release of the bedbugs in a hotel that certainly looks like one in the heart of the nation’s capital is a “commentary on the easily penetrable nature of the current administration.” The bugs themselves, well, says Riley, “I have nightmares about them. They’re essentially a human predator. They can’t reproduce without coming into contact with living human blood.”

If you would like to draw more direct conclusions of who Riley is talking about, you can view this art installation at Pioneer Works in Red Hook through November 24th.

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Comments are Closed.
chavala November 27, 2019

Anything that takes down a Trump business, the people who work for him and/or the people who support him makes me happy. It’s not just about politics anymore. If we can’t lock him up, get him where it hurts. His wallet. It’s all he cares about.

caljn November 25, 2019

Mr. Tharos: are you familiar with the definition of "fascist"? Neo or otherwise? If you add "oligarch" you are describing trump and the republicans, as we witness daily the deconstruction of the government and our institutions. Sad.

D2travel November 23, 2019

Not art, nor public commentary, this should be treated as an act of terrorism, plain and simple!

IBobi November 22, 2019

You lie down with dogs...

Tharos November 22, 2019

These neo-Fascist never-Trumper Democrats are a scourge upon the reasoned and fair minded populace.