A Logo For America


Piccadilly Circus

Image by Adbusters, Corporate America Flag

Now more than ever there seems to be a regression in global principals of inclusion. Perhaps these notions have never progressed, at least not in the way that we, the mixed-background society of large metropolises think it has. But for every jumbled background child, couple, friends coming together, there is also a declined visa, another built fence, or a prejudiced rejection. It seems that nationalist identities are regaining their momentum in our world-round-race to 'win our countries back'. This rhetoric has recently been used by UKIP in its aim to give Britain its independence day (despite being an independent nation, since always in fact). Trump has carelessly used the phrase as his 2017 electoral campaign slogan. So in our current state, is referring (or promoting) nation's independence a statement that should be celebrated for its inclusiveness, its unification of local communities and redistribution of government funds to support its citizens. Or, is it not instead a terrifying vision advocated by the ultra right, ultra populist, ultra corporate free-market supporters aiming to reduce the 'chaos' brought by a non heterogeneous nation?
In 1987 Chilean born artist Alfredo Jaar first showcased A Logo For America, a graphic installation presented on a digital billboard in New York City's Times Square. The work shows an outline of North America's continent overlaid with the words 'This Is Not America'. What Alfredo is questioning is the very idea of what America is. Is America simply confined to its determined boarders (as continuously advocated by many of today's world leaders), or is 'America' a forever progressing ideology, a heritage which feeds through to its young and to the entire world as well. Is nationalism confined only to its official territory, or can it seep through the gaps of its highly controlled boarders, and touch people around the world? Nationalist ideas can exist in individuals or communities which do not necessarily belong to that very nation, and that, is the beauty of globalisation. Sadly however, it seems we are still rejecting these ideas, confining nationalist thinking to populist advocates rather than celebrating an individual's ability to belong to (and sympathise with) one and many nations.
Alfredo's piece will present a keynote talk to accompany the first UK presentation of his iconic work at London's Piccadilly Circus.