In a moment that combined political theater and performance art, Hillary Clinton was reunited with her emails at an exhibition in Italy this week.
And she wants Republicans to know it.
“Someone alert the House GOP,” she wrote on Twitter today, captioning a picture of her seated with reams of paper that were part of “Hillary: The Hillary Clinton Emails,” a work on display in the Despar Teatro Italia in Venice.
On a replica of the desk in the Oval Office, which eluded her in 2016, were copies of some of the roughly 60,000 pages of emails that formed a central controversy during her presidential campaign.
During her visit, Clinton took a seat and started to thumb through the papers, said Kenneth Goldsmith, the American poet and artist behind the exhibition. In promotional materials, he called the emails “the most important political documents of our times.”
The email controversy followed Clinton through much of the campaign, and was seized on particularly by her opponent, Donald Trump, and other Republicans. It centered on how she set up a private email account while she was secretary of state under President Barack Obama, and on her decision to destroy entries that she deemed to be personal. Classified information was found in a small number of messages from her account.
Clinton, who left the State Department in 2013, was not charged based on the recommendation of James Comey, then the FBI director, and she did not face disciplinary action.
But the issue lingered until the end of the campaign, including an explosive revelation days before the election that new emails had been discovered, and Trump continued to insist that Clinton’s actions were “bigger than Watergate” and enough to put her in jail.
(Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, both White House aides, have since faced scrutiny over their handling of private communications.)
After Clinton’s appearance at the exhibition, which was built into a balcony jutting out over a supermarket, she called the email episode one of the “strangest” and most “absurd” events in U.S. political history.
“Anyone can go in and look at them,” she said during remarks to the Italian news media. “There is nothing there.
“There is nothing that should have been so controversial,” she added.
The exhibition opened on May 9 and runs through Nov. 24 as part of the 58th Biennale of Visual Arts, which has served as a bellwether for the international art community since its establishment in 1895.
It was put together by a team of curators called Francesco Urbano Ragazzi, which said in an emailed statement Thursday that Clinton’s visit had been a surprise.
“We were approached very informally by one of the closest friends of Hillary Clinton a few days before her visit,” the curators said. The friend was planning a trip to the Biennale with Clinton after she spoke at the Ambrosetti forum in Cernobbio.
“We thought it was just a joke until Tuesday 9 a.m.,” the curators said, “when we saw the security services inside the exhibition space.”
In the exhibition, Goldsmith “makes public for the first time in printed format all the emails which, according to WikiLeaks, were sent from the domain clintonemail.com between 2009 and 2013,” according to the promotional materials.
“The pile of papers is rather unimpressive, rebutting Trump’s efforts to make them monumental,” the materials say. “In this way, Goldsmith creates the greatest poem of the 21st century, an anti-monument to the folly of Trump’s heinous smear campaign against Clinton.”