The Last State / Neo-Theo (Possessed American Flag)
2004-18, creased spray-painted cotton flag (various versions), audio loop of children reciting the "Pledge of Allegiance" with the words "under God" removed, framed photographs, picture light
Dimensions variable; Flag dimensions: 60 x 32 inches
The Last State considers the legal cornerstone of religious tolerance and separation of church and state as originally imported to America via the Dutch settlement on Governors Island in 1624. An American flag with the words “help me” (a reference to the horror film “The Exorcist”) hangs on the wall, surrounded by photographs of gesturing hands that hark back to both stiff fascism and the original salutation for the “Pledge of Allegiance,” as written and prescribed by Francis Bellamy in 1892. A soundtrack plays of children reciting Bellamy’s original words, which did not include “under God” (added only in 1954). With the current wave of right wing and religious extremism, it is fruitful to recall that it is not religion’s responsibility to breed tolerance or protect an individual’s liberties, but the law’s duty. The altered flag, even in this “theologically possessed” and “desecrated” state, but fully reversible, challenges our respect for the history and laws that protect our civil liberties.
Listen to Pledge of Allegiance loop audio from the installation: