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9 December 2015

What if Donald Trump was actually an elaborate piece of British performance art?

Either the “US presidential hopeful” is Tilda Swinton in a very convincing skin suit, or we’re all doomed.

By Eleanor Margolis

The year is 2017. As President Donald “worse than Voldemort” Trump steps up to the podium to deliver his inaugural address, an undulating crowd of people who were deemed “too stupid” to join the NRA gradually falls silent. Trump clears his throat. But instead of his words, Capitol Hill is filled with a gradual unzipping sound. With a terse “fluck”, the President’s skin flops to the ground like a discarded orange peel. Left standing is a very tall, very pale woman who appears to have emerged from Trump like a haunted silver birch from a puddle of diarrhoea.

The crowd starts to scream.

“SILENCE,” booms the tall woman, “It is I… Tilda Swinton.”

I wouldn’t blame you for assuming this scenario is pure fantasy. It’s actually a prediction. My prediction. As, following Trump’s even more self-parodying than usual assertion that all Muslims should be banned from entering the US, I’ve reached the entirely logical conclusion that the guy is a particularly elaborate piece of performance art conceived and executed by Academy Award-winning actor/performance artist/gossamer soothsayer from the realm of poets and ice, Tilda S.

Think about it. In fact, let’s use Occam’s razor. Either, in the present day, there is a US presidential hopeful who, not as a joke, wants to wall out Mexicans and ban every single member of the world’s Muslim population, all well over a billion of them, from entering his country, or, the politically-charged performance artist Tilda Swinton is commenting on the intellectual barbarism of the United States’ elite. I hope, for humanity’s sake, the latter seems more likely.

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The fact is though that Donald Trump is the greatest work of political satire possibly since the dawn of time, and he belongs in a white-walled exhibition space, cordoned off by rope and surrounded by people who haven’t laughed since 1972 stroking their chins and whispering, “seminal”. Either that or we’re doomed, and I hate being doomed. As febrile US lawmakers grapple with what should be done in the case of a recently elected president turning out to be a piece of performance art, I can only hope that those who elected aforementioned art will have a long, hard think about what they did and who they are. Perhaps “I was hoodwinked by Tilda Swinton” support groups, full of sad, reflective idiots, would crop up all over the United States.

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“My name is Chet,” says one such idiot, “and I…”, his sentence cracks into tears. He takes a deep breath, “and I was made to look a fool by that mean British lady.”

Mary, this chapter’s leader, places a hand on Chet’s arm.

“We all were, Chet. We all were.”

And thus commences an hour-long Krispy Kreme-fuelled group discussion about the perils of art and the British.

Earlier this week, reflective light technology was used to reveal another portrait underneath the Mona Lisa. In 2017, zip technology will be used to reveal that there’s an upper-class British woman underneath Donald Trump. It’s almost disappointingly simple. And, genius as the piece is, I’m sure art critics’ one problem with Swinton’s decades-spanning work of satire will be that it’s “a little on the nose”. “The referring to himself in the third person thing very nearly gave it away,” says someone bespectacled who people pretend to have heard of, on Newsnight.

If you fancy being as rich as the presidential candidate in question, in just over a year, I recommend you get yourself down to your local betting shop and put whatever you can on Tilda Swinton winning the 2017 Turner Prize with her post-9/11, post-ironic, pre-apocalyptic performance piece, “Donald Trump”.

Now read: what happens in 2020 when President Donald Trump meets Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn