© 2015 Cal Harben

video, photographs

FLAGGING documents the raising of 4 flags, Cindy Baker's Pride Flag for Lesbians Who Stay Home with Their Cats, Pride Flag for Saskatchewan, Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens’ Ecosexual Pride Flag, and Jessica Whitbread’s flag for No Pants No Problem. The flags were flown from the barquentine ship Antigua while sailing the west coast of Svalbard during a 2-week residency with The Arctic Circle program. A remote archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, Svalbard, lays at 79° north, and is used primarily as a mining and research base. Though the residency included 20 artists and scientists and a crew of 8 - with no phone or internet signal - we were in some ways very alone. Each flag was raised without audience or announcement, signalling to an empty coastline in hopes of whoever (or whatever) may be watching.

Flag signalling is a method of maritime communication developed prior to the invention of the radio: it uses a system of flags to communicate with others while at sea. As an analog format flags are still preferred in many circumstances as they use an internationally standardized set of symbols. With the ability to communicate messages over long distances, flags can indicate specific instructions or requests, nationalities, weather, and cargo. The gesture presented by FLAGGING interrupts the standard of communication with each flag enacting an extensional presence of a queer identity or body located elsewhere.