Right now there is an exhibition of white flags representing Americans who have died of COVID-19 covering more than 20 acres of the National Mall in Washington.
Last year, artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg created an outdoor installation in Washington comprised of more than 267,000 white flags—one for every person in the United States who had died from COVID-19.
This year, she has returned and expanded her work. Now, there are some 650,000 flags placed on the National Mall.
“When numbers get so large, it becomes difficult to really understand them, so I as a visual artist wanted to make the number physical,” she said as she oversaw its construction.
Some people out there are still campaigning that the pandemic is a scam, that a variety of insane conspiracy theories are in play, that Q is our hidden soothsayer and Trump would have saved us all if the election hadn’t been stolen—despite of the fact that his lies led directly to the magnitude of our loss. The fact is that 10s of thousands of Americans are being newly infected every day and we have now equaled the American deaths from the 1918 flu pandemic.
We must confront the fact that each flag represents not just a person lost, but families and relationships devastated. Each flag is the center of an explosion of grief. Representing the situation in this way that makes it more possible to confront it and is of enormous value.
Many articles have been published now about Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg and her work. But we feel that pointing out that she is a hero in not only presenting the facts but making it directly possible for everyone to see and be involved in it.
Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg is the originator of this project but an army of volunteers has been involved in placing and inscribing messages on these flags. Anyone can dedicate a flag. Visit the project’s website here. You can also volunteer through the same site.
The exhibit is open until October 3rd, 2021. But its effect will be timeless.