Untitled (Flag 2), 2017 by Josephine Meckseper
Meckseper said of her work, “The flag is a collage of an American flag and one of my dripped paintings which resembles the contours of the United States. I divided the shape of the country in two for the flag design to reflect a deeply polarized country in which a president has openly bragged about harassing women and is withdrawing from the Kyoto protocol and UN Human Rights Council.
“The black and white sock on my flag takes on a new symbolic meaning in light of the recent imprisonment of immigrant children at the border.
“Let’s not forget that we all came from somewhere and are only recent occupants of this country – native cultures knew to took care of this continent much better for thousands of years before us. It’s about time for our differences to unite us rather than divide us.”
I believe art should speak for itself and that it is rarely beneficial for artists to over-explain their works. But since my artwork for Creative Time’s “Pledges of Allegiance” project elicited such strong reactions, I feel that my voice as the artist should be heard. The way in which the piece was made speaks to my intent, which until now has not been discussed.
Untitled (Flag 2) was conceived in the spring of 2017 for “Pledges of Allegiance,” a project in which sixteen artists were invited to create artworks in the shape of a flag for Creative Time’s annual fundraiser, without specific public locations in mind yet.
There is a long tradition of artists working with the iconography of the flag, creating new perspectives and interpretations of aesthetics, but also addressing the paradoxes inherent in politics to enter a collective discourse. My contribution to “Pledges of Allegiance” comes out of this tradition. It is a conceptual work that engages with forms of representation and is not intended to be read as an actual desecrated American flag.
Rather than using a real flag, I employed the technique of collage, superimposing multiple images. The most prominent element of the work is an image derived from my abstract drip painting from 2015 entitled “Goodbye to Language,” which resembles a map of the United States and includes a single striped sock, which was superimposed onto a graphic design of a flag, creating a collage. “Goodbye to Language” takes its title from Jean-Luc Godard’s 2014 film “Adieu au Language,” a fractured, experimental work involving two couples both coming together and growing apart. The word “adieu,” in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, can mean both “hello” and “goodbye,” depending on the context of its use.
Untitled (Flag 2) is a metaphorical artwork. I hope that within the public contexts of the organizations with which Creative Time has partnered to display the work, it can contribute to a necessary discussion about art’s role in society, who we are as a nation, what divides us, and what brings us together.
– Josephine Meckseper, July 2018
About Josephine Meckseper
Josephine Meckseper is a German-born, New York-based artist. She uses commercial forms of presentation to demonstrate inextricable influences of consumer culture on society. Meckseper melds the aesthetic language of modernism with the formal language of commercial display, combining them with images and artifacts of historical undercurrents and political protest movements.
Josephine Meckseper’s Untitled (Flag 2) was on view July 3rd – July 31st, 2018 at:
– Creative Time Headquarters, 59 East 4th Street, NY, NY
– 21C Museum Hotel Durham, 111 Corcoran St, Durham, NC
– The Commons, in partnership with the Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, 1340 Jayhawk Blvd, Lawrence, KS
– Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, 114 Central Ave, Ithaca, NY
– Mid-America Arts Alliance, 2018 Baltimore Ave, Kansas City, MO
– Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, 4454 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI
– Old Stone House, 336 3rd Street, Brooklyn, NY
– RISD Museum, 224 Benefit Street, Providence, RI
– SPACE, 536 Congress Street, Portland, ME
– Texas State Galleries, 233 West Sessom Drive, San Marcos, TX
– The Union for Contemporary Art, 2423 N 24th Street, Omaha, NE
– University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum, 3821 USF Holly Drive, Tampa, FL
– Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, NJ
Photograph by Guillaume Ziccarelli