Claire Voon, HYPERALLERGIC, June 29, 2017

Is the City of Chicago trolling the 45th president of the United States? A gleaming, six-foot-tall sculpture that appeared this week near the downtown Trump International Hotel and Tower certainly suggests so, spelling out just two words in thick, golden letters: “REAL FAKE.”

The quip appeared on Monday evening, installed by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) as part of a new installation of public art along the Chicago Riverwalk. Simply titled “Real Fake,” the 350-pound fiberglass work, coated in metallic paint, appears as a direct dig at President Trump and his endless dismissal of the media’s criticisms as “fake news” while leading a life of fraudulence himself. But the piece, created by local artist Scott Reeder, was actually first installed in 2013 as part of Art Basel Miami Beach, where it loomed on the grassy knoll of Collins Park. It’s on loan to the city now by Reeder’s gallery, Kavi Gupta.

Still, it’s impossible to ignore its current placement outside the President’s glassy luxury hotel, where the statement takes on new meaning as a form of protest art. Beyond its semantic implications about Trump, “Real Fake” is also fitting for its faux golden material, which immediately reminds of the President’s love for all things ornate to the point of gaudiness.

Reeder did not respond to Hyperallergic’s requests for comment, but city spokesperson Christine Carrino told the Chicago Tribune that no insult was intended on its part. “What’s wonderful about art is that it is completely open to interpretation,” she said (“coyly,” apparently).


“Real Fake” is one of the five new artworks installed along the Riverwalk as part of the city’s Year of Public Art — a $1.5 million initiative to commission artists to create new works for spaces across Chicago. Other pieces include Tony Tasset‘s “Deer” (2015), a giant grazing cervid that was also in Miami last year, and two graffiti works by Sam Kirk and Tyrue “Slang” Jones. Carrino told the Tribune that DCASE had selected the installation sites prior to its choice of artworks and, remaining cryptic, did not share why Reeder’s golden phrase earned the golden spot near the Trump building. Perched on a plaza that offers an unobscured view of the tower, it’s perfectly positioned as a wonderful accessory for your middle finger shots.

Like it or not, the sculpture is remaining on that corner of Upper Wacker Drive and Wabash Avenue through October. And Trump supporters, don’t even try to dismantle its letters: the city has firmly bolted it down.

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