“It is not down on any map; true places never are.”
― Herman Melville, Moby Dick
It is not down on any map; true places never are (2019) is a kinetic-outdoor sculpture consisting of 2 flagpoles connected by one chain that pulls 18 flags up and down each beam continuously. A self-operating machine moves the chain; as the flags rise and lower through the poles their order is in constant flux. Each flagpole is 20 feet tall and affixed to a 10-foot platform for the viewer to stand on and walk underneath. The machine will stop and reverse its direction intermittently. By animating the flagpole into kinetic sculptures this piece explores the intersection between performance and sculpture and distills the meaning of the flag in contemporary life.
It is not down on any map; true places never are serves as a contradiction to the traditional rules of flag code; international usage forbidding the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in times of peace.
In this performative installation, these rules are intentionally manipulated to offer a participatory and contemplative place to question our ideas of individualism and the mechanics of nationalism. Now more than ever, this piece speaks to power dynamics, trade, immigration, colonialism, and the role of the viewer’s body in space. The piece draws inspiration by artists who have used flags as a medium such as Jasper Johns, David Hammons, Cady Noland, Kenneth Snelson and the work of Chris Burden.
This project is a collaboration between Antonia Wright and Ruben Millares, artists who have been working together for almost 10 years. This sculpture is a continuation of their interest in using the body to challenge social conventions and explore issues of identity. The artists’ recent work has moved away from using themselves in each project, but to replace their physical presence with performative installations to show how the machine can serve as a surrogate to the body.