FLAGS | Every population is a multinational organism


This is the title of the approx. 30-part series of medium and large format colored pencil drawings (and their digital reproductions) that I started working on in 2019. The total of 206 national flags - according to an alphabetical list of the United Nations - are converted into speculative forms in my drawings. They represent a dream: an anti-hierarchical cooperation of all states. Starting from the factual observation that every population is a multinational organism.

On the other hand, there is the nightmare that could materialize in a physical coexistence of all life on this planet, as in the 2018 film The Extinction by Alex Garland, meaning we are unable to comprehend. We learn from the natural sciences that bacterial strains are constantly changing people, plants and animals.

Quantum physics teaches us that there are no autonomous particles/bodies in the true sense. The theories of independent scientist, environmentalist and futurist James Ephraim Lovelock (The Man Who Named the World, 1990) and the theories of sociologist and philosopher Bruno Latour (ANT – Actor-Network Theory) forcefully introduce an expanded understanding of the possibilities of our planet and all life. The philosopher and literary scholar Armen Avanessian also formulated a speculative realism.

With my series FLAGGEN I offer a speculative surface. In my drawings I claim that nationhood is an obsolete system of order. The national state lies like a tattered dress over a destructive = renewing planet. While these nation-state clothes are maintained by state violence, I weave other narratives into this dress.

I want to create anti-chauvinist images. In the large-format drawings, 5-10 national flags are combined in alphabetical order to form organic structures. My first FLAGS (Nos. 1-12) refer to the plant photographs by Carl Blossfeldt. At the end of 1920 he published his manipulated plant photographs (“Urformen der Kunst und Wundergarten der Natur”). I counter Blossfeldt's idea that the construction of plants teaches what the ideal state should look like with the current facts of the multinational body politic. As an artist of the "New Objectivity", Blossfeldt was also accused of having paved the way for National Socialism.

The FLAGGEN series results from my experiences with the first ONE MILLION WORLD PERFORMANCE, which I was able to realize as part of the "100 Years Bauhaus Opening Festival" in January 2019 in the Academy of Arts, Berlin -> https://www.eine-million.com/en/news/akademie-der-kunste-100-years-bauhaus-the-opening-festival-one-million-world-performance/

Uli Aigner