Father’s Flag

What follows is James Southard’s interpretation of his video. 

Over the years I’ve been looking into artwork that addressed how I saw my own community and culture. Being from the American Southeast, I wasn’t interested in how the world saw my culture, but how other southerners saw themselves. There are a millions difference ways to approach the subject of how a culture sees itself, but I have been making attempts to question how our culture picks and chooses its own aesthetic and ethos. I knew that we portrayed ourselves uniquely, yet many things that make the American South so distinct can easily be found elsewhere. So I believe we seek to distinguish our characteristics so that we can still keep an aura of societal independence. It is this act of looking inward, reflecting and creating an identity that I find more interesting and I have been finding ways to discuss it in my artwork.

This video installation is one of them. I came across the confederate flag shown in the video among my father’s belongings and I looked at the reasons why he owned and kept it. The symbol of the flag has many historical and abject connotations; yet dealing with the object is harder than I could of imagined. I wanted to address my father’s flag in the most honest method possible. Before I retired his flag, I waved it in the manner that I deemed fitting. The truck doing donuts, tearing at the earth, deals with the adolescent act of showing off and not seriously understanding our own acting’s. Living for the moment can be liberating, but I also wanted to address the history of this symbol aside from this objects personal connection to me. So laying the flag to rest in a flag retirement ceremony seemed to be the best way to finish the cycle of this object’s life.

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