In Inside Sources, I write about Donald Trump’s inauguration into not only the presidency, but the assembly of wax figures at Madame Tussauds Museum in London.

Wax is a strange medium—both real and unreal, and with a long history since ancient times of representing life and death, truth and deception. Trump’s inclusion in the Tussauds waxworks is a fitting symbol of the close entanglement of celebrity and politics since the birth of the modern age.

More than other media — such as stone monument, or oil on canvas—wax is the ultimate medium for conveying to the public the uncanny, and illusionistic character of the Trump presidency. Wax models do not easily fit into definitions of what is “art” any more easily than Trump fits into established ideas of an American president.


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Jennifer Tucker is a historian who studies the interrelations of art and science, photography, and mass visual culture, with a specialization in 19th to mid-20th century British, U.S., and trans-Pacific history. The common threads in her diverse research fields are the dynamics of visual media in modern history, the nature of evidence, public perceptions and practices of history, and the interrelationships of science, technology, and the law.

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