Government buildings, private homes, ships, and local businesses all fly flags in the Red Hood neighbourhood of Brooklyn, where we were artists-in-residence for September and October 2019. The American flag is most prominent, but also noticeable is the POW/MIA flag, NYC flag, pride flag, and numerous promotional flags, including an array of branded flags outside Red Hook’s infamous Ikea. We began to reflect on how the sum of the flags flown (and the absence of others) in a community can represent and communicate.
With the naturally dyed cotton fabric from plants harvested from the neighbourhood, we created five flags of our own; goldenrod, sumac, wild tarragon, pokeweed, and reed. These flags were temporarily returned to the neighbourhood and flown in-situ, amongst the plants that produced the pigments. Working within the format and tradition of flags, we created a marker, a symbol, an emblem for the plants that quietly live here in an effort to celebrate and amplify their presence through ephemeral site specific interventions.
Coincidentally, after many years of waiting, initial remediation work at the Red Hook ball fields got underway during our residency. This offered us a brief window of opportunity to install our plant flags onto free-standing steel poles surrounding the ball fields. Only a day later, these poles became a completed chain-link fence, preventing entry to the area.
My participation in the artist-in-residence program at De-Construkt in Brooklyn NY, was made possible through the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the New Brunswick Arts Board, and Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation. Thank you.