The Who Is? project intercedes into the public space via craft-making through a very simple medium: the flag. The perfect metaphor when thinking about borders, migration and who belongs where, this remnant of colonial occupation repurposed by artists Iman Tajik and Jonas Jessen Hansen to make a salient and timely point.
The project asks us to think carefully about the narratives created around ‘us’ and ‘them’ in the conversation around today’s immigration systems and globalisation.
Their white flag shouts: ‘Who are they? Who are we?’ and has been exhibited around different spots in Europe since World Refugee Day on June 20th. As they put it:
“The stranger is an ambivalent character. They are neither neighbour nor alien, but both, simultaneously. Close foreigners and foreign neighbours. Alien fear is a product of the stranger’s incongruous character and life is marked by the struggle to reduce alienation.”
The flag is white, the writing black. But the issues the artists are trying to intervene in are anything but. This muddy, complicated and divisive issue will never be resolved without conversation. The flag acts as a prompt for dialogue, a simple conversation starter that jolts the curious reader into positioning themselves into an us/them dichotomy. Rather than thinking about the issue in these black and white terms, the artists are prodding and poking at what might underlie xenophobia.
Through a simple piece of fabric tied to a mast, this piece shows how political messages and craft can be a quiet but powerful provocation into the public space and wide-reaching debates.