Gowanus

Trump is still stuck in the toxic Gowanus Canal. The neighbors plan to leave him there.

The president wanted to drain the swamp — but now he's trapped in one.

October 25, 2019 Scott Enman

A lot of strange things have appeared in the toxic waters of the Gowanus Canal over the years. Banjos, cars and that one fearless swimmer come to mind. And who can forget Sludgie the Whale?

But what emerged sometime during the last week may be the strangest of all: a floating statue of President Donald Trump surrounded by faux serpents and seaweed.

The artwork depicts Trump inside a tire with orange gloves and green eyes. He has his mouth open in what appears to be a raging fit — perhaps upset by increasing calls for impeachment, or just the fact that he is floating along a waterway that has, at one time or another, contained typhoid, cholera, tuberculosis and gonorrhea. (At one point, the canal was called “Lavender Lake” for its concoction of colors that resembled Pepto-Bismol.)

“It’s a statement of some kind,” said John Britz of Boerum Hill. “Why bother putting those nice orange gloves on him? It’s protecting his hands I guess, but he doesn’t seem to care what he’s protecting.”

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The effigy has been in the 1.8-mile federal Superfund site since at least Sunday, when a reader of local blog Pardon Me For Asking sent it to the website’s founder Katia Kelly.

The statue floats off in the distance. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane

It doesn’t appear to be anchored, but has remained in the general vicinity of the Carroll Street Bridge.

Dennis R. of Windsor Terrace, who declined to provide his full name so as to not offend some of his conservative-leaning friends, said the contaminated waterway was a suitable home for the sculpture

“It’s an appropriate place to put an effigy of our current president because there’s a lot of garbage in there,” he said, adding: “I don’t know if garbage should be maligned like that.”


No one knows who created the statute, which appeared around the same time as Gowanus Open Studios. But resident Michael Koshkin said he appreciated the fact that the artist remained anonymous, forcing viewers to focus on the artwork itself rather than who the artist is or where he or she went to school.

A side view of the effigy of the 45th president.

“I like artists not letting their own ego get in the way of how people look at art,” he said. “It’s just something that people can walk by and experience for what it is. … It’s a random act of defiance and a temporary exhibit of something that people can interact with. That’s what art is.”

Several readers on Kelly’s blog attempted to interpret the symbolism of the snakes. One asked whether the serpents represented Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Another wrote, “Yes drain all swamps Mr President even the Gowanus!!!! MAGA.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.


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