Flag Exchange Soared at Federal Hall

Flag Exchange art exhibit at Federal Hall 2017

Last weekend marked the final days of Flag Exchange: A Living Thing, an art installation by conceptual artist Mel Ziegler, at Federal Hall. Seen by an estimated 62,179 visitors from across the globe, Ziegler’s collection of 50 distressed flags was suspended in the site’s grand rotunda from August 31 through November 11.

Ziegler created the installation by travelling around the country collecting worn flags from each of the 50 states. He presented new flag as a replacement to the owners and in many instances, recorded his experience of retrieving each flag. Some deeply personal and others very quirky, the stories worked with the flags to suggest the vastness and diversity of the American experience.

You can read media coverage of the installation at Federal Hall in the following publications: The New York Times, Forbes.com, BLOUIN Art Info, Untapped Cities, The Art Newspaper and Artnet.com.

Visitors on-site were encouraged to write notes to America in response to the show. Some “Dear America” notes expressed frustration, anger or despair at the state of our union, while still more urged unity and a message of hope. International visitors also wrote their own notes, adding many languages to the chorus of responses. Select notecards are featured on our Facebook page.

The installation was organized by us with the National Park Service and was curated by Hesse McGraw, of the San Francisco Art Institute with support from Galerie Perrotin.

Before its tenure at Federal Hall, Flag Exchange showed at the San Francisco Art Institute; the Tang Teaching Museum, Saratoga Springs, New York; the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Salt Lake City; and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Nebraska. The public engagement program “Dear America” was originally developed by Ziegler and his students at Vanderbilt University.

Photo Credit: © Guillaume Ziccarelli