Eric Haynes/Courier A US flag with the drawing of legendary activist Cornel West hangs on display for the People's Prison exhibit at Gallery 30 South in Pasadena on Thursday. The exhibit, put together by INDECLINE, an activist art collective, depicts Donald Trump in a prison cell surrounded by American flags, and has also been secretly installed into a rented hotel suite at the Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York earlier this year.
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It is easy to miss Gallery 30 South when driving through Pasadena. What looks to be a tiny house is actually an art gallery that attracts locals to view contemporary art made by today’s visionaries like Chuck D and Diana Georgie.

The most recent exhibit was put on by INDECLINE, an activist art collective who has already made headlines this year when they secretly installed a jail cell in Trump Tower, fitted with a Donald Trump impersonator. Gallery owner Matt Kennedy was able to get INDECLINE to put on a similar exhibit at Gallery 30 South called “The People’s Prison.”

“INDECLINE contacted me and let me know about an idea for exhibition,” Kennedy said. “They told me that the scope of it was going to be dicidence using American flags.”

INDECLINE covered the walls with American flags featuring portraits of political dissidents throughout American history. Portraits from Angela Davis and Malcolm X to Edward Snowden and Leonard Peltier were featured on the flags. Most of the flags were torn or had the edges burnt. Kennedy felt like damaging the flag represented the issue people take when it comes to protecting the flag.

“The idea of art on flags or the destruction of flags is crazy to some people,” Kennedy said. “I have relatives who think that you should be executed for damaging a flag. That to me is mind-blowing, it’s a piece of cloth. The guys who fight for that flag are fighting for the right to criticize it.”

The main piece of the exhibit that stands out right when you walk in, is the jail cell that looks just like the one from Trump Tower. The cell is littered with McDonalds wrappers and happy meals, and fake rats that are scattered throughout the trash. Hanging above the cell is a flickering light that creates an eerie feeling.

“We put all this trash in here to show that [Trump] is not a very sophisticated man,” Kennedy said with a laugh. “But it also shows how he treats the world, like it’s a bunch a garbage. If he didn’t have somebody to clean up after him, he wouldn’t do it himself, all of this [trash] would just pile up around him.”

When the exhibit first opened in Pasadena, the Trump impersonator from New York came and sat in the cage for a day. There was no limit with the impersonator; he threw insults at people who walked in and never broke character. He was fitted with gold plated handcuffs around his hands to hammer in the prison aspect of the exhibit.

“He was amazing, once he got dressed it was like the real Trump was here,” Kennedy said. “He threw insults at reporters, made incredibly racists and sexist remarks, just like the president does. It was not safe for anybody.”

Although this exhibit points out the obvious buffoonery of the President’s actions, Kennedy hopes that this exhibit gets across a deeper message.

“Something that is seen as unpatriotic by some people can be seen as being patriotic,” Kennedy said. “By using an American flag as an object of protest for something political, which is something that flag stands for, is a point that is lost on too many people. There is a bizarre protectiveness of a piece of cloth, rather than the rights of an individual. I hope this exhibit brings that into focus.”

After the exhibit officially closes, Kennedy and INDECLINE plan on auctioning off the jail cell. As for Gallery 30 South, Planned Parenthood has reached out in order to host an event in the near future to celebrate its anniversary.

If interested in checking out Gallery 30 South for upcoming exhibits, it is located on 30 S Wilson Ave, Pasadena, or you can follow them on Instagram @gallery30south.

About Matthew Brown

Matthew Brown is the Sports Editor at the Courier. He is majoring in Journalism and plans to transfer to a four year university in the Fall of 2019. Matthew first became interested in writing when he joined his high school newspaper. When Matthew is not in school, he is most likely working at Chuck E. Cheese. In his free time, he is often at a baseball stadium, or driving around Southern California looking for an adventure.

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