Washington, D.C., artist Robin Bell and a couple of his friends defaced the Trump Hotel on Monday. They set up a projector and beamed the entire text of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution onto the Old Post Office Pavilion's facade.The clause bars the President from receiving gifts or payments from foreign governments or heads of state. A text reading “PAY TRUMP BRIBES HERE” and “EMOLUMENTS WELCOME” was also present. All three projections were up for about 15 minutes before security guards came out and stopped Bell and his crew. People shared photos of the projections on social media soon after, prompting Bell to take credit for the artwork.
Bell, an artist and filmmaker, said he projected those words onto the hotel's facade from a van across the street, hoping to call attention to accusations that President Donald Trump is allowing foreign leaders to pay for access by staying at a Trump property just a few blocks from the White House. The Trump Organization rents the space for the Trump International Hotel from the General Services Administration. Because the President oversees the GSA, Trump effectively became both landlord and tenant when he was sworn in. It was the fifth time Bell had projected messages onto the Trump International Hotel, he said. He drove his van to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to attend Trump's speech marking his one hundredth day in office, where Bell projected a "100 days of pollution" message onto a building's wall. After security halted his display on Monday, Bell said that it wouldn't stop him from doing it again.
There will be a lot more projections to come," he said. "We're going to keep going."
“Even though the digital artwork is very temporary,” Bell says, “it does create a moment in time—and it makes me feel good.” Bell had the projection planned for about a month. He admits that it wasn’t a response to the news about Trump revealing classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador.
Since then, Bell has projected visual protests onto buildings such as the EPA and the DOJ. He says he tries to do one once every couple weeks or so. Bell's work is not technically illegal because he isn’t inflicting any permanent damage on the buildings. He uses Photoshop and projection-mapping software to mock up the work on-site.“It gets me through the day, so hopefully it’ll get some other people through the day,” he says.