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DCA Archive

Santiago Sierra

Black Flag

For the past two decades, Spanish artist Santiago Sierra has carried out provocative actions around the world. Influenced by the formal language of the minimal and conceptual art movements of the 1960s and 70s, Sierra’s work addresses the hierarchies of power and class that operate in our modern society and everyday existence.

This exhibition is the UK premiere of one of the artist's most ambitious undertakings to date. It takes the form of an immersive photographic and sound installation documenting the process and performance of planting the universal symbol of the anarchist movement - the black flag - at the two most extreme points on earth: the North and South Poles.

On 14 April 2015, Santiago Sierra completed the first part of Black Flag at the geographic North Pole, latitude 90º N. An expedition travelled from the remote island Svalbard to the kinetic Russian ice base Barneo, using a network of private tourism and logistical support companies to complete the journey. From the base, several trips were undertaken to document the planting of the flag and the surrounding landscape. Eight months later, on 14 December 2015 – exactly 104 years after Roald Amundsen's successful Norwegian expedition to the South Pole and the tragedy of Robert Falcon Scott’s failed attempt – the final instalment of Black Flag was completed, using the substantial and permanent infrastructure of Antarctica. The flag was planted and documented at the geographic South Pole, latitude 90º S. The expeditions to both poles were documented with photographs and sound recordings. The flags were both left in situ.

Marking Sierra's first solo exhibition of work in Scotland, this project makes an acute critique of concepts of territory and the practices of nationalism imbued in the deceptively simple act of planting a flag. 

Black Flag is a collaboration between Santiago Sierra Studio and a/political with special thanks to Lutz Henke. a/political is a nonprofit organisation, collaborating with artists who work within a socio-political framework.

About the artist:

Santiago Sierra (b. Madrid, 1966) studied Fine Arts at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid and at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg (HFBK) between 1989 and 1991, as well as at the Academy of San Carlos in Mexico City between 1995 and 1997.

Recent solo shows include El Bebedero, Prometeo gallery, Milan, Italy (2016); Laboratory, Mexico (2015); Helga de Alvear, Madrid, Spain (2016); Kunsthalle Tübingen, Germany (2013); Te Tuhi Centre, New Zealand (2013); Reykjavik Art Museum, Iceland (2012); MARCO, Spain (2009); Museu Madre, Italy (2009); CAC Malaga, Spain (2006), Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Belgium (2004).

Sierra has also been featured in numerous group exhibitions including the Museum of Modern Art, Poland (2016); National Gallery of Art, Poland (2015); Kunsthalle Dusseldorf (2014); Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2014) and the 55th Venice Biennale. Sierra represented Spain at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003.