Saratoga Springs, NY
A More Perfect Union foregrounds the museum as town square — for the greater Skidmore and Capital Region communities. It asks us to think critically and actively about the role that politics, policy, and our national discourse play in the state of the Union. Created for provocation and thoughtful dialogue, the stage is a large soapbox, and throughout the summer and fall we will be exploring the elections and the current state of democracy through classes, lectures, dialogues, debates, performances, lunches, and more.
A More Perfect Union also presents the debut of the recently completed Flag Exchange, a multi-year project by conceptual and social interventionist artist Mel Ziegler. With an inventory of new United States flags in his car, Ziegler journeyed to each of the 50 states and exchanged a weathered flag for a new one. In a process with parallels to the travels of a political candidate, Ziegler arrived in a state, searched for an appropriate flag, and then sought the flag's owner. In the conversation that followed, he introduced himself as an artist and explained his project. Most people he met were receptive to his invitation to participate, and after they exchanged flags, he moved on. He found flags at homes, post offices, storefronts, and other public sites. Sometimes he chose a flag because of its look, or because the location was significant, and other times because the exchange was particularly poignant. Ziegler had the name of each state embroidered along the hoist edge.
According to the 1923 National Flag Conference held in Washington, D.C., the American flag “represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.” The lives of the 50 flags hanging above you include both their history of use and Ziegler’s experiences acquiring them. These silently held narratives are reminders of the various connotations the U.S. flag carries, both spoken and unspoken, public and private, here in America and abroad.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.