"WHEN WE BLEED, WE BLEED" & "WHEN SOLDIERS COME"
40cm x 60 cm // Acrylic on canvas
We do not exist free of context. Our physical bodies & our economic existence, our
communities & political identities are inextricably bound together, & all of these
things will be reflected in our individual mental health. But in 2019, we find
ourselves locked in a psychotic episode of international proportions. Every day
delivers some horror that would have been unimaginable 5 or 10 years ago. How do
we cope? Do we become desensitized, depersonalized, looking ever inward for
strategies. Do we become radicalized, until we find ourselves cynical, or exhausted?
Or do we do our best to contain the anxiety, while the body politic gaslights us daily,
just trying to hold it together.
This is the first time I have used the English national flag, because while most
national flags carry a toxic jolt, the voltage of the St. George flag is particularly high
– I cannot think of a politically neutral use of it in the 25 years I’ve lived here, outside
of a few weeks of football every couple of years. But Brexit is a very English affair,
& an unelected Prime Minister deciding to suspend Parliament & brush off Irish
border issues as ‘inconsequential’ is a very English upper class flex of power. The
flag of St. George is often used to evoke a pre-lapsarian Never-Never Land of
frolicking blonde children & tea in china cups. Can it also stand for its thriving
immigrant communities, who contribute so much? Can it withstand the tension,
between the rosy past & the punishing future?
It’s quite telling that I haven’t had the guts to take the English flags to
demonstrations. While I’m not a fan of national symbols & I understand the
problems inherent in the notion of national pride, I know that we abandon these
symbols at our peril. Flags are bearers of identity, & for some, a sense of security, &
that can be hijacked by reactionary forces all too easily.
--Shireen Liane, 2019
Silicone sculpture installation by Anna Horeglad, at Art Number.23 Gallery
Mono print installation by John Gosnell, at ART NUMBER.23 gallery, London,Uk