Flags Buried Alive

The artist AA Bronson returned to his New York home after the 9/11 terrorist attacks:

What I found there is inscribed indelibly on my brain: a thick chalky dust of glass, concrete, paper, asbestos and human flesh that covered everything; and American flags, everywhere. Within a month I had purchased my first flag on eBay.

I made 10 paintings, each constructed of a used American flag, mounted on raw linen, and coated in layers of an antique preparation of rabbit skin glue, Champagne chalk, and honey. This compound was, historically, used to prepare the ground upon which a painting was made. But here the ground becomes the painting itself, shrouding each flag—with their history implicit in torn edges, holes and rips—in a dusty poetic silence.

Americans are famously obsessed with their flag, even disposing of used flags through burial or cremation. But my form of burial is more akin to 9/11 itself, kind of burying it alive, transforming it into an emblem of loss and mourning, not only for 9/11 but also for the America I once knew. [From an interview with Sara Hay in i-D, 2 Feb 2015]

AA Bronson examines one of his flag-canvasses in process of producing the White Flag exhibit at Galerie Esther Schipper, Berlin. From his twitter feed.
AA Bronson examines one of his flag-canvasses in process of producing the White Flag exhibit at Galerie Esther Schipper, Berlin. From his twitter feed.
Production of a white flag.  From the artist's twitter feed.
Production of a white flag. From the artist’s twitter feed.
A large production.  From the artist's twitter feed.
A large production. From the artist’s twitter feed.
"The final painting for WHITE FLAG at #EstherSchipper. Still wet. " From the artists's twitter stream.
“The final painting for WHITE FLAG at #EstherSchipper. Still wet.” From the artists’s twitter stream.

On the title of his solo show at Galerie Esther Schipper, Berlin:

The title describes the paintings, but it also alludes to the plant, White Flag, or Cemetery Iris, a white flower popular in Muslim and Christian cemeteries that’s been cultivated for over 3500 years. I’ve been working with poisonous plants for the last few years, plants associated with witchcraft, magic and medicine. White Flag is highly poisonous, invasive, and infertile. Indigenous to North Africa and the Middle East it travelled with the Muslims to Spain and then with the Spanish to America. It’s strange that a flower with such a long history in Muslim cemeteries has now come to represent Christian cemeteries as well! [From an interview with Sara Hay in i-D, 2 Feb 2015]

Iris albicans
Iris albicans, the White Flag or Cemetery Iris. From Wikipedia.

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Author: SDM

Ethnography * Technology * Design

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