At the closing party of the gallery’s theme-of-the-year ‘MEND’, flag artist David Mahfouda unfurled his longer-than-a-flagpole-is-tall flag from the roof of the 5-story high building that houses Proteus Gowanus. The flag had been torn in exuberant waving and joyous dancing on Union Square, the night Obama was elected president. For seven months, Proteus Gowanus had been the “Mending HQ” for volunteers helping David restore the flag, and nurturing its spirit. Together they stitched the stripes back together, and sewed new stars onto the flag’s sky panel.
The flag was created in the year leading up to the election, as a bridge to a new beginning, by reclaiming the stars-and-stripes from millions of lapel pins, born(e) in the aftermath of 9/11, by resizing it millionfold into one flag to be held, moved, and cared for by many.
The night the flag became the people’s was the night the rips appeared, the need for mending, and the awareness that mending indeed can be done—that mending is needed to clear the skies, for the skies to celebrate the flag free-flowingly, for anyone to hold hands with that new sky, to take it into one’s circle, the circle of people, the circle of nations.
The night of June 28th, this flag was rolled from the rooftop to be carried by the wind—and torn again by the courtyard’s 19th century brick and mortar—into the hands of those who help mend it, for them to look up that 13-lane highway of red & white to see the big blue with stars, some clear, some still dimmed, and to feel comfort that even in this dire economy, there is a new normal worthy of dancing a jig, even if it’s sponsored by a major credit card.
Who needs a flagpole.