Jasper Johns: Flag (2008)

Direction/concept by Gülgün Kayim, June 2008
Sound: Jennifer Kotting
Costumes: Amy McClure
Video: Katinka Galanos
Set: Julia Reisinger
Performers: Blake Bolan, Beth Brooks, Kym Longhi, Vladimir Rovinsky

One of three panels of Jasper Johns, a study in performance triggered by the works of the landmark American painter, in June 2008.

Notes on Jasper Johns: Flag
My responses to Jasper Johns’ American flag series are mediated by my status as an alien in this country. As a cultural outsider I see this country and its icons from a very different standpoint. I am fascinated by the power of Johns’ imagery. I see at once the flat symbol and its deeper meanings triggered by my immigrant’s perceptions of America and Americanism.

The outsider influences began for me at the outset of this project while working with a group of Russian dancers from St. Petersburg and members of my cast. As we worked I came to realize that to fully understand the idea of America it was necessary for me to become a citizen. Thus, Flag is also a document and enquiry of the process of becoming an American citizen. For this piece Vladimir Rovinsky and I have embarked on the long citizenship process, asking questions and making public the very personal journey to American citizenship. As we have discovered much of the time our experience has been defined by waiting. Also in Flag I have tried to present a work that is as much about the spirit of Johns’ artistry and his manipulations of materials as it is a personal examination of contemporary American identity.

Finally, a note on the process: the performers and I worked collaboratively to create Flag each contributing our triggers to John’s flag paintings as well as concepts for the overall work.


Photo from Jasper Johns: Flag