Archive for the 'patriotism' Category

The End


One year ago, I embarked on a mission. In order to document and call attention to the prevalence of patriotic imagery on the American landscape; I decided to photograph one new use of the flag, everyday, for one year. Now, 366 (I bet you forgot it was a leap year) flags later I am finished. The point has been made; in 2008 flag imagery is everywhere. It is common to see a person in a flag t-shirt or see the flag image decorating a mailbox or used on the packaging for cigarettes or any product you can think of.

All the uses I have photographed are blatantly against the U.S. Flag code (click here to check it out, great site)  yet it is considered acceptable and even patriotic to stick a plastic flag in your yard or don a flag shirt. However, some uses of the flag will get you arrested like hanging it upside down to protest the war in Iraq. And burning the flag is out of the question. Why does burning the flag incite people to violence while using it on a disposible garbage bag does not? Both are against the flag code.

To me the over usage feels like propaganda. It seeps in through your skin when you are not paying attention, subliminally creating a sense of nationalism.

Thanks for coming along on my journey! It has been an interesting year!


FLAG A DAY is going to be included in a show, sponsored by CREATIVE TIME that promises to be really exciting. DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA: THE NATIONAL CAMPAIGN will be at the Park Avenue Armory (643 Park avenue between 66th and 67th streets) in NYC from Sept. 21 – 27.


Living Photographs – 2

Recently a woman named Patty Watson sent me a group of photographs that I would like to share with you. Here is what she has to say,

Since 911 each Flag Day I have been organizing aerial photos consisting of 750 students, staff and volunteers at Cloverbank elementary school. We have a big Flag Day ceremony each year so I thought it would be fun to make a symbol to teach the kids about being patriotic. These enlarged photos line the foyer of the school. Each child receives one on Field Days and decorates the frame in red, white, and blue stars. Last year I also had the kids sing “God Bless America” while in the formation. I have completed 8 patriotic symbols and given 4 Flag Day speeches.



Patriotic Dog

Speaking of memorials and 9/11 this site, Baby the Patriotic Bulldog, is too, too much to behold, don’t miss it.


9/11 Tribute

A recent article in the New York Times titled, As 9/11 Draws Near, How Much Tribute Is Enough? by N. R. Kleinfield starts out;

Again it comes, for the sixth time now—2,191 days after that awful morning – falling for the first time on a Tuesday, the same day of the week.

Again there will be the public tributes, the tightly scripted memorial events, the reflex news coverage, the souvenir peddlers.

Is all of it necessary, at the same decibel level – still?”

The article goes on to quote people on both sides of the argument, including family members of the deceased, who want the memorializing to continue and those who do not.

However you feel about the memorializing, 9/11 changed America is ways that other tragedies have not. The horrific nature of the attack on civilians struck an empathetic cord that brought Americans together as a people, untied by grief and shock. Displaying the flag became the symbol of unity. But six years later what was a heartfelt symbol of unity has become a vehicle to increase sales, a decoration for chachka’s made in China, an empty symbol saturating the landscape.

American Icon

Have you gotten a new passport with in the last month? Did your jaw drop in awe at the new “American Icon” design? The passport redesign was six years in the making and incorporates practically every patriotic, American symbol in existence into a tidy little personal shrine. Out of the country and feeling a little homesick, not to worry just open up your very own “American Icon” and bask in the glow of amber waves of grain, bald eagles, and large heads of dead presidents all accompanied by a healthy of dose of patriotic quotes.

But most importantly the icon overdose that is your new “e-passport” also comes complete with its very own RFID chip embedded in the back cover. If case you forget your identity, not to worry, the scanner at the airport knows exactly who you are.

Check out this recent New York Times article by Neil Mac Farquhar about the e-passport. “Stars and Stripes, Wrapped in the Same Old Blue”

Another good article about the passport: “E-passport: Doorway to the Panopticon”
pa*nop”ti*con\, n. A prison so constructed that the inspector can see each of the prisoners at all times, without being seen.

Oh, and this is what the state department has to say about it:
“The new U.S. e-passport will incorporate updated security features and a new design. This design will reflect the varied landscapes of our country and each page will include a quote reflecting the hope and success that is the United States of America.”


Freedom Rock


Recently someone sent me a series of photographs of a rock in rural Iowa that a local young man Ray ”Bubba” Sorenson has been painting since 1999. The rock, a 56-ton granite boulder, had been scrawled with graffiti for years until Bubba painted his first patriotic Memorial Day mural. Now the murals remain on the rock undisturbed until the next Memorial Day when he paints a new patriotic theme.

He started painting the Rock after viewing Private Ryan and felling that patriotism was at an all time low. He thought about the rock and how many people would see and be influenced by his message.

For me this homegrown mural raises so many thoughts and questions about the nature of patriotism and the nature of memory and tribute I thought I would put up a few of the photos of Sorenson’s murals and link to the site, Freedom Rock, where you can view all the murals since 1999, read about Bubba, and get directions to the site.