Sunday, February 6, 2011
"I'm not sure yet."
I'm working on a project. I've been photographing the American flag whenever I see it being flown or displayed. I've been making these photographs for quite a while and now there are times I see a flag and pass by knowing I have an image so similar that this one wouldn't add anything unique to the series.
Today, a friend of mine asked, "So what's this flag series all about?" I thought for a second then I said, "I'm not sure yet." And I'm not.
This isn't a unique project. Many other photographers have made long term projects of the same subject. I'm probably not presenting any original concept or questioning a pattern of behavior that hasn't already been thoroughly studied. But the fact that so many people feel compelled to display the flag intrigues me.
There are several terms I associate with the flag: unity, solidarity, patriotism, nationalism, imperialism. But there is another word that always comes to mind, and I attribute its position in the forefront of my thought to the fact that I grew up in the 1960s. That word is assassination. My memory holds vivid images of the flag draped coffins of those years. At that time the symbolism represented in the use and display of the flag was emphatically clear.
I don't know where this project will take me or what its outcome will be. What the flag represents and how people choose to use it seems to be a much more complicated issue today.
Photo: ©2010 David W. Sumner