The flag is of critical importance to the maintenance and reproduction of a country’s identity, as it connects people to their nation by reminding them what their country stands for. Therefore, as it is often verified, a flag can be also used to enhance a certain sense of national exceptionalism. Because of that, flags represent a recurrent instrument of nationalism that has been historically used to justify and validate different acts of violence against minorities throughout history.
In 2018, soon after the election of Jair Bolsonaro as president of Brazil, the level of violence against the Brazilian minority communities started to grow exponentially across the country. The incidents can be often explained as related to the instigation of violence present in Bolsonaro’s political discourse, one filled with nationalist and discriminatory ideals.
For developing No one’s flag, I fragmented the Brazilian national flag and placed its parts inside Petri dishes as a symbolic attempt of dissolving the utopian idea of a unified Brazilian identity. The fragments were then overlapped with a mix of bacteria collected from different queer, indigenous and black Brazilian people, as well as from elements related to their cultures (pieces of art, jewelry, clothing etc.). Instead of a unified and static identity, the result was a living combination of mixed Brazilian identities, a miscegenation that the flag seems not to be willing to embrace. As bacteria and other microorganisms quickly started to take over the flag’s pieces, they dissolved and transformed them, decomposing a powerful tool of nationalism at the speed of nature’s mercy. After taking some pictures of the microorganisms’ colonization process, I manipulated some of them, creating even more colorful transmutations of what was once the national flag of a country.