Non-profit Chelsea bookstore Printed Matter is now stocking the latest suite of protest signs from Lower East Side-based indie art publisher Badlands Unlimited. Inspired by the Westboro Baptist Church’s infamous “God Hates Fags” signs, these, however, have messages like FAGS HATE TRUMP, GOD HATES TRUMP, and TRUMP DOOMS AMERICA.
“The signs are really meant to be carried out into ongoing protests and rallies,” said Micaela Durand, director of Badlands Unlimited. “They’re inspired by the Westboro Baptist Church signs; we wanted to subvert that speech.”
The signs — Badlands calls them its “New Proverbs” project — are already proving popular. The first run had its maiden political field deployment at the Women’s March in January. More signs have been added to the collection, and the latest slate appeared two weeks ago during the LGBT Equality March in D.C.
The signs have already gotten a lot of feedback — some critical, conceded Durand, who may have sensed my skepticism that signs saying GOD HATES IVANKA are a tasteful or effective way to advance the progressive agenda. “I think for us, Trump has this brand of hate speech [and] we are trying to use that against him in the same way,” she said. “I think these signs are very colorful and powerful and they stand to be just as loud as the campaign he’s holding. I think the spirit of the signs is to inspire fear in those that think they’re more powerful than the minorities they’re attacking. We’re trying to take power back.”
Badlands, founded by artist Paul Chan and others in 2010, publishes art books and erotica from an office space on the Lower East Side and sells its books out of a 99-cent shop next door. “We want to make art books affordable to a public of readers in their 20s and 30s who can’t afford expensive coffee-table art books,” explained Durand.
For those interested, the newest slate of signs is available as a four-pack ($120). Part of the proceeds will go to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the Ida B. Wells Society (an organization devoted to diversity in newsrooms), and Black and Pink (a support group for LGBT prisoners). Durand also mentioned that Badlands is planning to donate signs to activist groups in Trump states. “We are trying to move the signs into art centers and community groups that might need them,” she said.