Cornford and Cross
Civilization and its Discontents 2001/2004

Black flags flown from cultural buildings
For Values: 11th International Biennial of Visual Arts
Curated by Svetlana Mladenov and Igor Antic
Pancevo, Serbia and Montenegro

In 2004 we re-staged the work for the 11th Biennial of Visual Arts in Pancevo, Serbia and Montenegro.

By signaling a call to Anarchy, we challenged the limits of political obligation, from a position of security as foreign nationals taking part in a cultural event. The flags were five feet square, in reference to Ad Reinhardt's final black paintings; by flying them from cultural buildings throughout the city, we dogmatically refuted the layers of deadening negation set out in his 'Art as Art' statements. State power has often been portrayed as analogous to parental authority. Classic psychoanalysis posits that this authority is 'internalised' within the individual as the controlling, repressive force of guilt. So the individual's inner struggles may find their source or parallel in the tensions and conflicts between the citizen and state. As artists we have been accorded some space by the state and market to indulge in transgressive symbolic gestures, which may act as a provocation and serve as a catharsis. The work also refers to the split between the philosophical ideal of Anarchy and its political associations with collapse into destructive chaos.

Civilization and its Discontents is the title of the book by Sigmund Freud, written in 1930, which examines 'the never-ending conflict of the claim of the individual for freedom and the demands of society'.

'Civilization and its Discontents' Black flag flown from gallery. Pancevo, Serbia and Montenegro, 2004

'Civilization and its Discontents' Black flag flown from the cinema. Pancevo, Serbia and Montenegro, 2004