The third flag in Creative Time’s “Pledge of Allegiance” series was raised today at the nonprofit’s headquarters on East 4th Street in Manhattan. Breathing Flag (2017), designed by artist Nari Ward, will remain up for the rest of the month, before being replaced by another artist’s flag.
The work combines Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association with “an African prayer symbol known as the Congolese Cosmogram, which represents birth, life, death, and rebirth,” according to a Creative Time release. Describing the Congolese Cosmogram, Ward said in a statement, “Several of these hole patterns are drilled into the floorboards of one of the oldest African-American churches in the United States in Savannah, Georgia. It is believed that the drilled pattern functioned as breathing holes for runaway slaves who, hiding under the floor, awaited safe transport north.”
The project, which began on June 14 (Flag Day and President Trump’s birthday) with the raising of Marilyn Minter’s RESIST FLAG (2017), will feature flags by 16 contemporary artists, each taking a turn on a 12-foot flagpole built for the series. In his statement, Ward said he wants to “acknowledge the resilience of the human spirit to survive even as we continue to need to be reminded here in America that Black Lives Matter.”
In addition to Creative Time’s offices, Breathing Flag will fly for the remainder of August at the Queens Museum in New York, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, the 21c Museum Hotel in Durham, North Carolina, and the University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum.