Maps, Flags, Culture and Ants

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One of my first brushes with Modern Art was, like most, a visit to Tate Modern (I know I was artistically uncultured until the 90s at least). I remember seeing this called Pacific by Yukinori Yanagi and being instantly attracted. I have always has something innately built in about maps, flags to me are in the same drawer of my mind. I guess the love of maps is due to fact they rarely change, they are there to be conquered and learnt. Anyway, what really swept me away was the fact these are made of sand and linked by small tubes where ants take sand from one flag to another. An excellent example of where just the sculpture alone carried thoughts, questions, cultures and theories all in one mind breeze. I just got it. I got the fact that ants carried the memes of sand from one culture to another, changing the flags/maps forever. Maps are not fixed because of the mix of culture.

From the Tate website:

Yanagi filled a series of interconnecting Perspex boxes with coloured sand to represent the flags of 49 nations. These include nations bordering the Pacific, former colonial powers, and native populations without sovereign territories such as the Maoris and Aborigines. He then released thousands of ants, whose movement distributed the sand from one flag to another. Suggestive of patterns of global migration, the ants gradually eroded the borders between different nations, creating new designs. ‘I question the concept of a nation’, Yanagi has said. ‘A nation, its border and national flag, has become an imaginary fiction.’

November 2006