What the flag?! 2023

The flag has a long tradition of different uses and meanings. Flags are commonly used to transmit signals, to identify countries, regions or cities, or to visually demarcate a territory. Flags are also frequently used to represent political ideas and beliefs. The artists are asked to respond from their own work and vision of the medium “flag” within the context of the location in which they are shown. The different flags will be shown to the public at various locations in and around the inner city of Heerlen. There is also an exchange of artists flags between art organizations and museums in the Euregion, a collaboration within the Very Contemporary network.

Paul Koppers, Luuk Smits, Anne Neukamp, Athanasia Vidali, Jody Korbach, Tom Bogaert, Vera Drebusch, Mikail Koçak.

Very Contemporary, 2023 ‣ What the flag?!

‘What the flag?!’ is a project in close collaboration with Greylight Projects in which artists design flags that are hosted on flagpoles outside or inside the venues of the Very Contemporary network partners and in the public space of the centre of Heerlen (NL).

The Very Contemporary network partners invite artists (of their current exhibitions or as part of their collection) to design a print for the flag. A flag from each Very Contemporary venue will be raised at a different Very Contemporary venue to show the relationship between the venues in the network.

Anne Neukamp, Untitled, 2022

From: Leopold-Hoesch-Museum (DE)
To: Neuer Aachener Kunstverein (DE)

In German artist Anne Neukamp's ongoing series of works on paper, the grid structure found on the blank pages of a standard calendar becomes the site of painterly events and juxtapositions of disparate images. Sketches, handwriting, digital renderings, and newspaper clippings collide in these seemingly simple assemblages. They suggest the scattered yet repetitive rhythm of daily life, punctuated by bills, letters, question marks, laconic answers, dry snacks, and small change. The idiomatic motifs that populate her assemblages are imbued with the materiality of color in a way that recalls the artist's daily practice. Day after day, Anne Neukamp confronts symbols and images destined for everyday efficiency, drawing them into a visual world that transforms their identity.

Jody Korbach, White Flag, 2023

From: Neuer Aachener Kunstverein (DE)
To: Art au Centre (BE)

For her upcoming first institutional solo exhibition “Fine people on both sides, and me.” at NAK Neuer Aachener Kunstverein in October 2023, artist Jody Korbach explores the idea of political and social belonging tied to the resulting conflicts as well as their possible healing. Following her artistic practice, Korbach draws on German history, pop culture and motifs. The artist's contribution to the What the Flag?! project functions as a teaser for the exhibition at NAK, depicting a scene of acute awareness of all evil and suffering, the German idea of Weltschmerz.

Very Contemporary, 2023 ‣ What the flag?!
Very Contemporary, 2023 ‣ What the flag?!

Mikail Koçak, Sweat Dreams, 2023

From: Art au Centre (BE)
To: Greylight Projects (NL)

A sometimes obsolete avatar, brandished daily around the world by radical nationalists, the flag is here reduced to the rank of a household towel. Doesn’t this mischievous diversion evoke the other side of the coin behind the symbol of national unity? “Trimer pour mieux mourir”* (economic and social inequalities), “ne pas mélanger les torchons et les serviettes”** (rejecting immigrants and their descendants, but whose labour force is accepted as contributing to the country’s GDP), the dream of “laver son linge sale en famille” (racist, xenophobic, misogynistic tendencies and totalitarian fantasies that have never been extinguished).

  • “Trimming to die for”
    ** “don’t mix tea towels and napkins”
    *** “washing one’s dirty laundry as a family”

Luuk Smits, Contemporary Walls, 2021

From: Greylight Projects (NL)
To: Kunsthaus NRW (DE)

Luuk Smits (NL, 1986), is a visual artist based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Smits works primarily in photography, installation and video.
I am interested in urban and non-urban construction material, material that is defined by its functionality. My working process is intuitive, beginning with a question and it unfolds through the language of the visual. It evolves along different lines of inquiry: One, a more research-based exploration into the material’s history, and the other, a more playful investigation into its capacities. Over the years I found, that the more time I spend with a material, the more it starts to develop a personality of itself. My sensitivity to the specific material evolves and gives space to playfullness. My interest remains triggered by the intelligence of these materials.

Very Contemporary, 2023 ‣ What the flag?!
Very Contemporary, 2023 ‣ What the flag?!

Vera Drebusch, Vogelschwärme, 2023

From: Kunsthaus NRW (DE)
To: IKOB Museum (BE)

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.

Tom Bogaert, Anaglyph Flag, 2023

From: IKOB Museum (BE)
To: Leopold-Hoesch-Museum (DE)

Tom Bogaert created a stereoscopic flag based on a collage he made using the German, Dutch, and Belgian flags as raw material. 3D red-cyan glasses are recommended to view his flag correctly.
Anaglyph 3D images contain two differently filtered coloured images, one for each eye. When viewed through the color-coded anaglyph glasses, each of the two images reaches the eye it's intended for, revealing an integrated stereoscopic image.

Very Contemporary, 2023 ‣ What the flag?!
Very Contemporary, 2023 ‣ What the flag?!

Athanasia Vidali , Destroyed view of Schilthorn, 2023

From: La Châtaigneraie (BE)
To: Het Nieuwe Domein (NL)

This gesture elaborates a question around the visual. My drawing of the Alpine summit Schilthorn gets “destroyed” by a gesture where the graphite attacks the view. The horizon becomes problematic as it is juxtaposed with the paper’s surface brought into view by graphite’s marking. In my work I have often destroyed horizons, in search of a beyond that is here, tactile, and present. These images attempt to make visible the deep interweaving of the visual with the materiality of the image. Images promise openings, views. Using gestures that disturb their views, I expose, or rather “ex-peau-se” their material presence; to expose or to expeause as to make emerge from a skin, they way Jean Luc Nancy suggested with the term “expeausition” in his book Corpus (2000). The theme consciously evokes the landscape paintings of the modern era in an attempt to make a subtle comment on the myth of man looking at nature as a landscape, as a separate thing. Attempting a visual dislocation, I wish to return to the tactile, to speak of the matter, as a present, fragile, unfolding condition.

Paul Koppers, La Nature 9, 2023

From: Het Nieuwe Domein (NL)
To: La Châtaigneraie (BE)

Here, the inside of a sea spider's shell is the inspiration for the experience of primal nature. This time not with the accent on colour but on texture , (growth) shapes and structure.This using the ancient material asphalt as a contribution to the primal. The aquaprint technique means that here a 'print' is made of a representation manufactured in a layer of tectyl on a water surface; the light shapes are created by pre-painting them on the canvas with white acrylic paint.

Very Contemporary, 2023 ‣ What the flag?!

The flags at the Very Contemporary venues are an addition to the What the Flag? exhibition in the centre of Heerlen (NL). As part of the city-centre exhibition, Greylight Projects invited a group of twelve international artists to translate their work to one or more flags, spread over different locations.

⟶ click here for the maps with locations