I left the country at the end of June and went to Canada. Canada Day was coming and Pride was about to start. The Maple Leaf and rainbow Pride flags were everywhere and when we crossed back at the Peace Bridge, the stars and stripes flew for the 4th. I made flags with my kids. We counted stripes and talked about stars. The flag was waving and flapping and dangling and printed on shirts and banners and packaging of every sort.
I got thinking about flags and couldn’t stop and since it was me, I got thinking about the flag’s entanglement in art. About the newer flags made to spread awareness and those made to take back power. And the more I saw them the more I thought about the flags appearance in galleries and museums this year. Though not always flags themselves.
David Hammons African-American Flag, though not at the Mnuchin show, has been flown and shown. William Pope L.’s flag flew last summer at MOCA in LA, and Dread Scott’s A Man Was Lynched By Police Yesterday hangs outside of Jack Shainman 20th street space today. At Frieze, Fred Wilson (and Pace*) brought one of the flag works from his series which takes color away leaving the black lines and forms from African countries in different eras. Less political but no less interesting were Richard Tuttle’s cloth pieces at the Met (The Critical Edge which ends this week) which move like flags but look to me like sketches for a new kind of adjoined emblem of statehood. Alex Dodge’s American flags as positive and negative at Klaus von Nichtssagend were vibrant and dimensional. Dominique Levy’s drawing show a few months back featured the same Oldenburg flag, made with discarded materials, that I loved at MoMA a few years ago.
This past weekend the Euro Cup ended and The Tour de France continued and then it’s the Olympics. National pride will swell and flags will be paraded and anthems performed. And finally most of those Emoji’s they added to your iPhone may begin to resonate. People of all stripes, a rainbow of people, that live within nations share flags but fly their own and more often than not, stand alone.
*I work for Pace Prints, which is connected to Pace Gallery and works with both Fred Wilson and Richard Tuttle.