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Flame Test, 2009

36 flags (dye sublimation on Duralux fabric, various dimensions according to official national dimensions), interior aluminum flagpoles, aluminum flag clips, aluminum acorn finials, interior metal wall mounts, digital study, lightjet print 14.4" W x 18" H

Flame Test is an installation of thirty-six official size outdoor flags printed with images of flag-burning protests compiled from the photo archives of the Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, and the European Pressphoto Agency. The burning flags in each of the news images have been tightly cropped so that what remains is an approximation of the flat, two-dimensional graphic of the flag itself, but captured in a state of disintegration. On the edge of the image one can see the limited details of the original context: the crowd of protesters or the scene of the political rally.

In 2005, the media coverage and debate over the publishing of cartoons of Muhammed in the Jyllands-Posten and several European broadsheets was consistently illustrated in the world press with images of protestors in various countries burning Danish or other European flags. Flame Test considers how the nation may be more deeply invoked by the desecration of its flag than by any other gestures produced by the propaganda machines of official political culture. I am interested in how nationalism is defined not by those who promote it through naïve and simple-minded gestures of patriotism, but rather by those who confront and antagonize the fixed symbols of the national culture. The "cropping" of the original images of the flag-burning scenes to create "cleaner" depictions for the printed flags, highlights the act of cropping and framing as crucial to the project of journalistic reportage and the representation of current events.

Exhibition history
Multi-lateral, Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Toronto, CA, curated by Barbara Fischer, 2009
Touched, 6th Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool, UK, curated by Lorenzo Fusi, 2010
Associated, 2P Contemporary, Hong Kong, 2011-2012

Design by Thought Bubble Studios