On Wednesday, 17 American arts institutions will raise a protest-minded flag designed by the artist Trevor Paglen. Featuring a weeping angel surrounded by code, the flag is part of “Pledges of Allegiance,” an initiative mounted by New York’s Creative Time for which artist-designed flags have been raised in opposition to the election of President Donald Trump. Other flag designers participating in the project include Marilyn Minter, Pedro Reyes, Alex Da Corte, and Robert Longo, among others.
Paglen, who was awarded a MacArthur “genius” grant last year, named the flag Weeping Angel in reference to a tool used by the Central Intelligence Agency to spy on Americans by secretly using cameras switched to “off” mode in internet-connected TVs. But the references need not be limited to surveillance technology—according to a release, Paglen is also nodding to the TV series Doctor Who, which features a fan-favorite episode about sculptures called Weeping Angels that watch unsuspecting Brits.
When “Pledges of Allegiance” took to the sky above Creative Time’s downtown New York office in June 2017, Nato Thompson, then the organization’s artistic director (he’s now artistic director of Philadelphia Contemporary), said he hoped other institutions would join in the festivities. A few months later, however, he conceded that such aspirations had proven challenging.
Starting on Tuesday, the flag created by Paglen can be found flying above the following institutions:
- Creative Time in New York
- 21C Museum Hotel Durham in North Carolina
- Atlanta Contemporary
- Brown University’s John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage in Providence, Rhode Island
- California College of the Arts in San Francisco
- The Commons in Lawrence, Kansas
- Cornell University’s Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art in Ithaca, New York
- KMAC Museum in Louisville, Kentucky
- Mid-America Arts Alliance in Kansas City
- Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville in Florida
- Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit
- RISD Museum in Providence, Rhode Island
- Texas State Galleries in San Marcos
- Union for Contemporary Art in Omaha
- Space in Portland, Maine
- University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum in Tampa
- Rutgers University’s Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey