'What the flag?!' is a project by Greylight Projects (NL), in which artists design flags that are hoisted on flagpoles outside or inside the venues of the partners of Very Contemporary, the network of 12 contemporary art institutions in the Meuse-Rhine Euregion. The VC network partners invite artists (of their current exhibitions or as part of their collection) to design a print for the flag. Each institution then sends their flag to be shown at a partner venue in an act of exchange and re-circulation.

Found images of flocks of birds are simplified into a graphic and embroidered as a motif onto silk flags. Vera Drebusch is interested in the convergence of collective intelligence in times of increasing internationalism. The image is part The installation, a three-flag stand with a total height of 3.5 meters, recalls the imposing décor of political events staged for the media, like receptions or press conferences. But the work ruptures and inverts the media-related function of such flags. The fine black embroidery on the shimmering white silk is, at first glance, not clearly readable and contradicts the inherent nature of national flags, which are impactful from a distance and possess a graphic as well as symbolic unambiguity. In reversing its representational logic the work, on the one hand, exposes the strategic use of flags in the media as a carrier of ideology and also reverses this very ideological logic. Since national identities and the political divisions of the world have little significance to birds in their transnational migration, also in a time defined by an increasing globalization and a simultaneous intensification of the role of national borders. There is a collectivity in the pattern and formations that they portray, and a decentralization in the community that they build.




Exhibition view, Vera Drebusch, Vogelschwärme (Flocks of Birds), 2023, © IKOB - Museum of Contemporary Art