Emptying flags

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These flags have no meaning., These flags have no meaning. These Flags Have No Meaning. These Flags Have No Meaning. © These flags have no meaning.
Emptying flags

Lützowstraße 70
Various Berlin
June 20th, 2013 - September 30th, 2013
Opening: June 20th, 2013 7:00 PM - 11:00 PM

Other (outside main areas)
Thu-Sat 2-6
Kunsthochschule Berlin - Weißensee
public-space, public-art, installation, performance, conceptual


Neue Berliner Räume is pleased to present the exhibition project Emptying flags by artist Sonja Hornung, which will run over a period of several months.

Public space plays a central role in this exhibition project, insofar as the artist uses her work to bring into focus concepts of statehood and the significance of territorial spaces. Using installation and public intervention, Sonja Hornung attempts to approach a representation of a borderless political space. In the process, the artist annexes used and unused flagpoles within the city, hoisting flags that have no meaning whatsoever.

Ordinarily, flags carry cultural, religious, ethnic or ideological messages. Loaded with historical and geographical significance, they are symbols of domination and power, predetermining identity, including some and excluding others. The symbolism of flags is part and parcel of a system of order that influences, at any given moment, each and every individual.

Using a self-devised system, Sonja Hornung generates patterns for flags that have no historical basis. Instead, these new flags are formed – as much as possible – by chance. The artist uses emptied flags to scrutinize the mechanism at the heart of the process that anchors a flag to its symbolic meaning and  its actual territory.

Emptying flags approaches the (im)possibility of separating spaces from borders, meaning and matter, form and content. In doing so, the exhibition project opens a fleeting moment of borderlessness, whilst prompting questions pertaining to the consequences of constructing different possibilities of meaning. What happens, for example, when we can no longer draw meaningful connections between the perceived and the understood? What happens when the symbol of the flag, always so distinct, loses its symbolic decisiveness, opening out to nothingness?

The first series of flags with no meaning created by the artist will be raised in front of Haus am KöllnischenPark, the previous academy for the Socialist Unity Party of East Germany (SED). Similar interventions will continue over the course of the summer, including in collaboration with international embassies in Berlin and other institutions, as well as in more mundane spaces that usually go overlooked. 

The public part of the project will be followed in early 2014 with an exhibition including photographs, drawings and the flags themselves. 

Sonja Hornung (*1987) is a Melbourne-born artist with an installation-based practice who uses public space to redefine the relation between humans and their environment. A recipient of the Melbourne National Scholarship, she graduated from her Bachelor of Creative Arts at the University of Melbourne with first class Honours. Currently, Sonja Hornung lives and works in Berlin, where she is studying for her Masters in Spatial Strategies at the Art Academy Weißensee. Her work has previously been shown in Berlin in two public projects in collaboration with General Public and the International Forum (Berliner Festspiele) respectively.

curated by Sylvia Sadzinski, Valerie Senden & Manuel Wischnewski