Carriage Trade

POP Patriotism

Momenta Art, Brooklyn, NY
September 7 - October 8, 2002

Kathe Burkhart
Nancy Chunn
Barbara Cliffe
Jody Culkin
Ken Freedman
Chris Hammerlein
Komar and Melamid
Ruth Liberman and Andrew Weinstein
David Opdyke
Sante Scardillo
Christy Rupp
Thomas Sherrod
Heidi Schlatter
Michael Wilson


Offering artifacts of popular culture placed alongside the work of artists skeptical of America’s renewed devotion to its flag, the exhibition POP Patriotism addresses the implications of this recent trend. The explosion of patriotic fervor that first swept across the country last fall and winter, seemingly justified by the trauma caused by what occurred in September, has a less than wholesome side that appears to have little to do with a simple pride in one’s nationality. Focusing on the mass marketing of national sentiment and nostalgia engaged in by the media, fashion and entertainment industries, the artwork included in POP Patriotism reflects a skepticism towards the propagandist and commercial opportunism that has been so prevalent in the past several months. This patriotic revivalism, having initially provided a rallying point for explosive emotions like defiance or revenge, also tapped into the urge to belong to something bigger than one’s own concerns. Perhaps alienated by a regular diet of overnight successes celebrated in the media at the close of the 90’s, the public’s impulse to identify with issues other than the rise and fall of dot-coms was deftly exploited by anyone looking for the "next big thing". Exhibiting mass-produced patriotic objects within the context of artworks that confront the underlying anxieties of this moment, the goal of POP Patriotism, in part, is to raise questions about the political and mercantile efforts to manipulate and cajole a tense and uncertain public.

As the novelty of American flags overwhelming the landscape subsides, the iconography of patriotism has settled into the nooks and crannies of the country’s unconscious, functioning like worry beads that are massaged without thought; a comforting ritual collectively engaged in. POP Patriotism intends to focus on this ritual, offering an ironic perspective on a recent cultural phenomenon that has yet to be fully examined.