The Half Mast White Flag

Melik Ohanian

Exhibition: Nov 10, 2005 – Jan 22, 2006

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.

Kate Green

Assistant Curator


Melik Ohanian

Paris, France

With an interdisciplinary approach, Melik Ohanian uses film, photography, and other media to explore the various perspectives inherent in scientific, social, and cultural communities. Though he begins with research and documentation (of star-gazers in Utah or rap-enthusiasts outside of large cities), projects are ultimately realized in poetic, sculptural installations that involve viewers and present multiple views. Each element and work joins to the next like a constellation that describes who we are and how we interact.
Ohanian’s recent seven-channel video project Seven Minutes Before (2004) continues his relational investigation of the cosmos. The film presents seven synchronized visions emerging and converging on the same point, yet each along distinct paths. Beginning with the tale of a natural tragedy that occurred in the French Alps, the piece continues as the cameras fly concurrently over the sharp valley, scrutinizing rocks, roads, tunnels, and ruins. Narrative moments (a couple in silent ritual, a wolf in a cage) indicate a metaphorical structure that suddenly ends with related fiery explosions. The work suggests, as do many of Ohanian’s projects, that between the multitude of divergent experiences there are universal connections.
Born in Lyon, France in 1969, Melik Ohanian is based in Paris. He has had solo exhibitions at Yvon Lambert in New York, NY (2004) and Paris, France (2003); Museum in Progress, Vienna, Austria (2003); and Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2002). Venues of group exhibitions include the 1st Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Russia (2005); XXVI Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (2004); and 3rd Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art, Germany (2004).

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Berta Sichel

Madrid, Spain

Originally from Brazil, Berta Sichel received her MA in Media Ecology from New York University, NY in 1984 and has worked toward her doctorate from the same institution. She is the Director of the Department of Audiovisuals and Film and Video Curator at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain and has organized projects with Jeremy Blake, Fluxus Films, Michael Snow, and many others. Sichel was the curator of Aztlán Today: The Chicano Post-Nation, which was shown at the Canal de Isabel II, Madrid, Spain, and Virgin Territory: Women, Gender and History in Contemporary Brazilian Art at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.

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