Jayson Musson Pledges of Allegiance Johnson Museum

Current Exhibition

August 22, 2017
July 31, 2018
Outside the Museum

The public art project Pledges of Allegiance was organized by Creative Time, a New York–based nonprofit organization committed to working with artists on contemporary dialogues, debates, and dreams. The project invites cultural institutions to participate in raising flags created by acclaimed contemporary artists to inspire community and conversation while supporting artists at the forefront of socially engaged art-making.

A new flag will be hung outside the Johnson each month. Each of fourteen flags identifies an issue the artist is passionate about and will provide opportunities for dialogue about pressing contemporary topics. The artists represented are Alex Da Corte, Jeremy DellerLaToya Ruby Frazier, Ann Hamilton, Robert Longo, Josephine Meckseper, Vik Muniz, Jayson Musson, Ahmet ÖgütYoko Ono, Trevor Paglen, Pedro Reyes, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Nari Ward.

October 2017

“Musson’s flag forces the viewer to engage in an all-too-befitting commentary in our political present,” said Nato Thompson, artistic director at Creative Time. “While Walter Benjamin referred to the history of civilization as a history of barbarism, Jayson Musson sees this phenomenon in the spirit of Saw, Leprechaun 2, and The Exorcist.” The artist himself stated, “Patriotism is a part of the progression of history in which a few mighty sovereign states crushed nearly the entirety of the globe underfoot in pursuit of their inalienable rights, which more often than not was simply the pursuit of riches.”

September 2017

Of his flag Untitled (Dividing Time) (2017), the artist Robert Longo (American, born 1953; lives and works in New York) said, “I based this flag on a large-scale charcoal drawing I completed on the day of the most recent presidential election. The drawing, Untitled (Nov. 8, 2016), consists of a left and right panel, with five inches separating them. I chose to draw the right panel larger but with fewer stars; my intention is to present the current symptomatic divide in the United States.”

August 2017

Breathing Flag (2017) by Nari Ward (born 1963 in Jamaica; lives and works in New York) references the flag of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and an African prayer symbol known as the Congolese Cosmogram, which represents birth, life, death, and rebirth.

“Several of these hole patterns are drilled into the floorboards of one of the oldest African American churches in the United States in Savannah, Georgia,” explains Ward. “It is believed that the drilled pattern functioned as breathing holes for runaway slaves who, hiding under the floor, awaited safe transport north. The union of that moment and of Garvey's black nationalist flag acknowledge the resilience of the human spirit to survive even as we continue to need to be reminded here in America that Black Lives Matter.”