Flag
(also titled: Cunt Flag

Terra Cotta, Acrylic, Hardware, Wood
19 H x 29 W x 1 D
2000

About the Piece

What if women had played an equal role in history along side of men, instead of a subordinate one? With the American Flag we celebrate our country. Flag (Cunt Flag) celebrates a country that is friendly towards women. The pun is intended in that we get the word country from the word cunt (see “cunt” in Barbara C. Walker's The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets). Flag is a direct comment on the flags of Jasper Johns and questions what our American Flag might have looked like if Jasper Johns had been a woman, or if he had lived in a country that celebrates women. 

An alternate title for the Cunt Flag is “Virginia Woolf wonders what would have happened if Jasper Johns’ sister had a room of her own”. In Woolf’s book A Room of One’s Own, Woolf creates the fictitious character of Shakespeare’s sister. With this title I have wondered about Jasper Johns’ fictitious sister. Another alternate title could be "If this cunt flag offends you then you are still buying into the patriarchy’s negative view of women”. Another title might be “Jasper Johns’ Flags sold for 28 Million”. 

I want to get people to think, to educate them, to question how they view women. At the same time I do not like to be reactionary, and I do not want to offend people. I do not want to react against the patriarchy. Rather, I want to elevate women in a pure way. However, the very act of elevating women will always offend the patriarchy. I am aware of how this piece can be seen as an “angry piece”. The piece, however, does not deserve to be seen only as an “angry piece” and is not intended as a slam against Jasper Johns. It is not commenting on his work as an individual. Rather, I have taken a piece that is valued highly by our society. I ask would we still value the piece if it were made by a person, man or woman, who values women? 

When I was getting ready to paint the Flag I toyed with the thought of painting it red, white, and blue. I ran the idea past my mom, who said that that would be too offensive to people. If someone walked into the gallery and saw cunt across the flag they would probably freak out. Then, I would have no chance of having them contemplate my piece. But, I hope they will see the green, black, and orange not as The American Flag, but as a type of American Flag. They will see my Flag as “the other’. Also, I hope they will be curious when they see the different colors and the strange way the stripes meander and sort of look like they might have letters in them. 

I got the green color by mixing green acrylic out of the tube with a bit of white and some yellow. The black is straight out of the acrylic tube and so is the orange. 

Like Johns’ own Flags, my piece is interactive. The viewer is invited to stare at Flag for a full two minutes, and then look at a blank white wall. The complimentary after image colors of red, white and blue will be seen. Therefore, the only true place the artwork exists is on the viewer’s retina. I enjoy the thought of the viewer becoming an active participant.  I am trying to reintroduce the world to the word cunt, wash off the scum and elevate it to its proper status. If I made a flag with the word cunt clearly written across it I would be afraid that people would walk into the gallery and not even give my stuff a look. I am hoping people will look at the flag for a bit before they even see the word cunt in it. Judy Chicago used this same tactic with her dinner party. The viewer sees what they are ready to see or wants to see. An example of this was one of my floor mates from college who was quite uncomfortable with sex. I showed her many of the plates from Judy’s Dinner Party. She did not comment that the dishes looked like yonis. Rather, she said she liked them, and how organic and natural they looked to her. She did not want to see cunts, and so she didn’t. As I write this I realize that I cannot be too indirect, I need for people to see the word cunt. I guess I am trying to soften the word cunt, to make it not be the first thing people notice. 

Barbara G. Walker (1983) writes in her Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets“Cunt is a derivative of the Oriental Great Goddess as Cunti, or Kunda, the Yoni of the Uni-verse. From the same root came county, kin and kind...Related forms were Latin cunnus, Middle English cunte, Old Norse and Frisian kunta, Basque cuna. Other cognates are "cunabula," a cradle, or earliest abode: "Cunina," a Roman Goddess who protected children in the cradle; "cunctipotent," all-powerful (i.e., having cunt-magic): "cunicle," a hole or passage; "cuniculate," penetrated by a passage: "cundy,," a coverted culvert: also cunning, kenning, and ken: knowledge, learning, insight, remembrance, wisdom. Cunt is not slang, dialect or any marginal form, but a true language word, and of the oldest stock" (Walker, p. 197). 

References:
Walker, Barbara G. (1983)  The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets New York: Harper Collins.


For questions or comments about Cydra's art, please email: womansculpture@icloud.com