The White Flags project follows the artists’ visit to the United Nations headquarters in New York. Struck by the strictly alphabetical deployment of the flags of the 192 member states of the institution, De Boeck began to question the ways in which the flags are grouped by formal affinities. He thus identified six categorical patterns – the abstract, crosses, circles, stars, crescents, and the figurative - before classifying them based on their number of colors to avoid the alphabetical classification.
The second phase of the project was to eliminate any coloration and to create paper cut versions of the flags with as many layers as there are colors used. Purified and bleached, these ersatz national flags made of paper are expropriated from their original specificity and function. The ending result is as if de Boeck has somehow neutralized the flags symbols and religious references, as well as their historical and ideological meanings, all of which form, in part, their identity.
In addition to the canopy of flags that are suspended in the air, a multitude of basketballs that are randomly scattered, occupies the floor. We find here fourty three identical basketballs painted with the fourty three Pantone tonalities identified from the United Nations flag colors. A colored stencil is applied to each of them highlighting the oceans. In The White Flags piece, which consists of identifying geometric forms or common cultural and national symbols, the research here is on the chromatic convergences of the various flags.
In response to the effect of sectarian flags following one another, the basketballs will evoke the concept of globalization. Each marked with white ink in the form of footprints representing the five continents, they become globes.
Using game vocabulary to question global issues, dialectic languages reoccur in de Boeck’s work. The installation presented here, with strategies to "de-colour" and "tattoo" the flags’ geometric shapes, its various swaying movements and bearings, all highlight the fragility of our world, of our culture and identity.
Images by Maxime Boisvert