Specializing in Thai & Asian Contemporary Art

The Outlaw’s Flags

Jakkai Siributr’s The Outlaw’s Flag is an installation of tapestries which were woven and stitched to resemble national flags. The installation addresses conflicts, impossibilities and failures for what it means to imagine national unity. The tapestries include patterns from the flags of the countries that rejected the fleeing Rohingyas and also mystical symbols, including a cross and stars. This hybridity points to relations of nation and ethnicity, emblems of both modern identities and traditional beliefs that might correspond but also clash. Strings of beads and beach detritus that the artist collected from a visit to Rakhine form rough, dense webs that unite the surfaces but as uneven, fractured and fragile. The grounds of the tapestries are cotton longyi-the dress of Burmese men-and Burmese monks’ robes. Another startling aspect of the reporting on the violence against Rohingya was the extent to which it was led by local monks.Created in different sizes and hung individually from horizontal, outsized bamboo sticks, the installation is to be experienced as much as the iconography can be contemplated and deciphered. The backs of the tapestries are fully visible and reveal the intricacies and minutiae of their production. A sense of time and labor is thus revealed for these otherwise transcendental forms. Much can said about the wrought, visceral qualities in this respect, evidencing human endeavor for the assembling of meanings that are anything but secure. The flags oscillate between the compelling and seductive and the fractious and disturbing, fundamentally shaped by differences, irregularity and strangeness.