Highlights from Athens: “Sámi Flag Project”

  • In a series of articles we present our findings and impressions of the exhibition Documenta14 in Athens. Today we discuss the celebrative flags of Synnøve Persen.

    Synnøve Persen made a strong appearance at Documenta14 in Athens. The exhibition gave voice to many indigenous artists, and Persen’s sketch of the Sami flag from 1977 was a powerful example. Hanging alongside the sweetheart Stanley Whitney, we were already meditating in a world of color planes, and discovered a connection between abstract painting and flags. Persen’s work had a pride, dignity, defiance, and a kind of celebration to it. Only her newer work was less fortunate. It seemed to represent the flags of Norway and Sweden, the Sami people’s oppressors, but its cold, designed look, took away some of that original sting and energy. It was no longer a party, but more like someone pointing fingers. Or that last minute attempt to include more and new work. However, if there was one thing documenta14 lacked, it wasn’t artwork.

    Synnøve Persen, Sketch for Sami flag