What do we understand by a flag?
A flag is a signal-giving piece of material. A loaded object and icon, which is often used as a symbol of politics, status, war, peace, territories, in connection with geopolitics and sports, but also the logo for various trademarks. All of the independent countries have flags, but there are also flags – such as the freestate Christiania's characteristic flag or (without comparison) the ISIS flag – which has iconic status, even though they do not represent nation states.
Flags produced by artists have a long and interesting history. There are many good reasons why flags are still relevant to the process and used within artistic and aesthetic practice. The symbol of the flag is used extensively in works during the last 100 years of art history. They are often covered with history and meaning, sometimes isolated like Jasper Johns flags (1954) or David Hammons African-American Flag (1990). Other times, the flag comments on a major political debate, for example, Eugène Delacroix, La Liberté guidant le peuple (1830), Poul Gernes proposal for an EC flag (1972), Daniel Buren's minimalistic Les Guirlandes (1982) on Documenta 7 in Kassel or Ai Weiwei's flag in connection with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (2018).
Since 2017, Kunsthal Aarhus has invited an artist to produce a new flag every year that we raise over Kunsthal Aarhus. The flags are commissioned one year at a time. The first flag was created for Kunsthal Aarhus 100 Anniversary by the artist Bodil Nielsen.
For this year's artistic flag at Kunsthal Aarhus, the Korean artist Donghee Koo has been inspired by a well-known Korean talisman. The symbol for happiness and wish fulfilment, which is why the title of the work is fittingly Good Luck.
The talisman is made up of a combination of Chinese characters, which stems from the now past mix of Korean and Chinese writing called Hanja.
The writing can be difficult to decipher as letters. Donghee Koo was interested in the talisman's dual-sided qualities of a scripture part and an abstract part similar to a hieroglyph, in which the form, among other things, appears to show a reptile.
The artist hopes that the flag can help bring good luck to the Kunsthal Aarhus guests and passers-by through 2022.
While flags often signal nationalism or a particular policy and location, the artist Ditte Gantriis has chosen to detach her work from these immediate symbolic values through an unconventional format and motif: The flag is vertical, fringed and adorned by a single flower
The flag in Kunsthal Aarhus Skulpturpark, Rebreather: The wind as a drunk, was shaped like a windsock
In the flagpole at Kunsthal Aarhus flew a banner created by artist Henrik Plenge Jakobsen in 2019: Stripes and Stripes
The colour festlig teglrød (festive brick-red) adorned the outer walls in the years 1954 – 1969