Melik Ohanian’s Artpace exhibition is generated by the Texas context while continuing his global inquiry into human relations within their environment. The work features an isolated flag pole breaking through his gallery, the roof, and to the outdoors, where a Texas flag rendered in white flutters at half-mast. The piece suggests both the troubling territorial and execution lore of Texas and comments on the universal socio-political ideologies such markers signify.
The lone metal pole evokes the complicated patriotism and power of Texas, the United States, and countries worldwide. Frustrating viewers’ attempts to enjoy the whole piece at once, the thirty-five foot pole has been crafted to pierce the ceiling, disregarding architectural boundaries like many nations do their borders. Breaking free, the flag claims victory and its territory, alluding to both the bellicose history of this state and its perceived relationship with the current mentality of national government both at home and abroad.
Yet, as a funnel for multiple meanings, the piece is equal parts triumph and resignation. This Texas flag is rendered in the white of innocence, hangs midway, and sinks into the ground as it rises out of it. As a representative of the Lone Star State, this country, and others, the flag mourns both those caught in its famously executory penal system and involved in current geo-political conflicts. Ohanian’s flag is a poetic gesture of both authority and surrender.