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European Union: Use of the flag in art

Last modified: 2023-06-10 by ivan sache
Keywords: art |
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"Proposal for a new European flag" (Christophe Terlinden, 2009)

[Art flag]

Schematic representation of Christopher Terlinden's "Proposal for a new European flag" - Image by Ivan Sache, 14 August 2013

The International Arts Campus "deSingel" is a multidisciplinary and international institution located in Antwerp, officially recognized in 2003 as a "Flemish Community Institution".
The "Curating the Campus" project, launched in 2003, involves the installation of a new work of art by a young or established Belgian or international artist on the deSingel site every year. This long- running exhibition is intended to reflect the architecture and cultural mission of deSingel.

"Proposal for a New European Flag", by the Brussels-based artist Christophe Terlinden (b. 1969), is a poetical, political and visual plea for a less divided Europe (presentation). The flag (photo, video) is blue with a yellow ring in the middle. According to its designer, the flag features so many stars that they merge to form a closed ring. The flag was hoisted in 2009 on a pole in deSingel campus.

The flag appears to have been created ten years earlier (1999). A photo of the flag hoisted in a wooden landscape was shown in the "En Connaissance de Cause" exhibition, organized from 12 November to 17 December 2006 by the Transit gallery, Mechelen.
A reduced-size copy of the flag was also presented in other exhibitions. The flag was included in the "Je sont les autres" installation presented by Xavier Noiré-Thomé from 13 September to 15 December 2010 in the Incise gallery, Charleroi (photos).
More recently, the flag was displayed as part of the "x-mas cosmos" exhibition organized on 18 and 19 December 2010 by the cosmos cosmos gallery, Brussels (photos).

Ivan Sache, 14 August 2013

Flag for the 2006 Europe Day (Maarten Vanden Eynde, 2006)

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Flag for the 2006 Europe Day - Image by Maarten Vanden Eynde, 23 December 2006

On 9 May 2006 (Europe Day), an alternative European flag was hoisted in several places all over Europe. The flag was designed by the Dutch plastician Maarten Vanden Eynde, as part of the project Enough Room for Space (ERforS), founded in 2005 by Maarten Vanden Eynde and Marjolijn Dijkman. Item #4 of the project (ERforS4, Europe 2006) was presented as follows:

Europe is facing its most difficult challenge: how to create a united Europe? After the referenda on the new European Constitutional Law and the following disappointment about the French and Dutch NO, Europe is further away from unification than ever. But as a result inertia about Europa was replaced by genuine interest. What does it mean to be European? What do we represent? How much personal identity do we want to hand over to become a unity? The project is about the European Union as a whole and wants to raise questions about Europe in the past, the present and the future. Is Europe a new country with new borders or a concept for freedom and equality?
A new European flag [European flag, spun-poly (155 gr/sq. m.) polyester cloth), UV-proof and washable (100 x 150 cm)] is made. The stars are the capitals of the different countries, creating an abstract sky full of stars. On the 9th of May, Europe Day, the new European flag will be presented through the whole European Union.
I think Europe should present itself as a variety of countries not as a unity (In varietate concordia). It is not a homogeneous circle of stars and it will never be one, so I put every star back on its original position, as the capital of the different countries. Like this an "abstract" sky full of stars appears. The borders are opening.

The flag can be purchased from the designer and was actually hoisted in several places, mostly museums and art galleries, as shown on photographies and movies available on the project website. In Tallin (Estonia), an additional star was painted on the flag to represent Estonia.

Ivan Sache, 23 December 2006

Drapeau prototype pour la Grande Europe (Gilles Mansillon, 2004)

[Art flag]

Schematic representation of Gilles Mansillon's "Drapeau prototype pour la Grande Europe" - Image by Ivan Sache, 31 July 2005

The painting entitled "Drapeau prototype pour la Grande Europe" (Protoype flag for Greater Europe) was made by the French artist Gilles Mansillon in 2004.
The painting shows a blue flag with 25 yellow stars. The core of the star design is a square made of 3 x 3 stars, extended horizontally with four stars on each side and vertically with two columns of two stars on each side.

Ivan Sache, 31 July 2005

"I do not know what union I want to belong to anymore" (Vlad Nancă, 2003)

[Art flag]

[Art flag]

Schematic representation of the 'I do not know what union I want to belong to anymore' installation - Image by Ivan Sache, 23 June 2010

In 2003, the Romanian artist Vlad Nancă (b. 1979 in Bucarest) designed the installation 'I do not know what union I want to belong to anymore', made of two flags of equal size (90 x 135 cm), a blue flag charged with a yellow hammer and sickle placed above the flag of the European Union with a red field instead of blue.
On the artist's blog, the installation is presented by Erden Kosova as follows:

[...] 'I do not know what union I want to belong to anymore' illustrates the confusion on the continuities and ruptures between Romanian near past and future. The dizzying shift between the two, once warring ideological continents, the state-communism of Eastern Europe and liberal social democracy of Western Europe is being represented in that piece by two flags. One of them bares the sickle and hammer combination used by the USSR and the other has the circular twelve stars of the EU on it. Will the latter truly replace the former? Is the EU-membership really the only viable alternative for Romania-in-transition still trying to heal the traumas of its nightmarish past? Does the coercive reformatting of the country somehow reiterate the over-regulations of bureau communism?
Nancă's sardonic swap between the colours of the two flags (blue and yellow USSR flag and red and yellow EU flag) points at that confusion among the Romanian minds in regard to their national identity through the graphic split of the national tricolour into the insignia of two trans- national entities.

A logo made of the European Union flag with a red field instead of blue is used on websites and pamphlets released by some Belgian and French leftist parties that promote Europe Sociale (Social Europe). However, a flag of the same design used in the context of Social Europe (meetings, demonstrations) has yet to be reported.

Ivan Sache, 23 June 2010