Carlos Fort Garcia is a “graphic designer and graphic activist” living in Barcelona, and author of a highly imaginative and playful vexillolographic project entitled Las Banderas de Nuestros Hijos: Deconstruvendo Banderas (The Flags of Our Children: Deconstructing Flags).
The project text is in Spanish, and my Spanish, alas, is very rusty, so I am sure I am missing some subtleties. But it is also highly visual, and well worth investigating even by the Spanish-illiterate, either in its online form at lasbanderasdenuestroshijos.com or its 80-page booklet format (published by Play Attitude, ISBN-13: 978-84-15149-49-1, first printing May 2014) if you can get your hands on a copy. (Full disclosure: I was one of the project’s crowdfunding supporters.)
The gist of the project, I think, is this: In an increasingly interconnected world, national flags too often serve more to divide than to unify, even while peoples’ identities often do not fit nicely within a single nation’s cultural borders. A person may feel equal parts American and Japanese, for example, or Catalonian and British. So Fort Garcia has produced playful mash-ups of national flags to create hybrid forms to better represent such shared allegiances, or at least call strict boundaries into question. Hybrids are created by first deconstructing two national flags into basic graphic ideas, and then recombining these elements into something the looks pleasing or at least inviting of attention.
I think it’s telling that the recombinations aren’t presented formally as strict rectangular flags, but rather with rounded corners as something like large graphic icons — actual hybrid flags might be seen as sacrilegious to patriots of either source nation, but by showing these to be flag-like (vexilloid!) creations but not literally flags, perhaps this goes a little way to begging forgiveness of such critics.
In the most politically-charged chapter, entitled Confluencias, Fort Garcia imagines uniting warring (or at least oppositional) countries. These matter-antimatter collisions may be utopian, but they are certainly visually and conceptually provocative. They also feel more natural or legible than the other pairings — enemies, after are, are in a salient preexisting relationship, and so perhaps their flags already want to interact, at least in our imaginations.
Whereas the book is beautifully rendered and visually stunning, it doesn’t seem to be available currently for purchase. The much more accessible online version, unfortunately, just shows a relatively small number of examples. Perhaps with added interest, there will be added development of the project. Even so, it’s a nice contribution to the vexillology of the imagination and the art of flags.
Blog entry by Scott Mainwaring.