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Neue Berliner Räume opens follow-up exhibition to last year's project Emptying flags by Sonja Hornung
Borders exist, but the absence of borders is born out of the same reality. Photo: Benjamin Busch / Neue Berliner Räume.

BERLIN.- In Opened, Neue Berliner Räume presents the follow-up exhibition to last year's project Emptying flags by Sonja Hornung. Opened packages the project's comprehensive archive in form of a fragmentary presentation.

Ordinarily, flags are carriers of ideological messages. Loaded with historical and geographical significance, they are symbols of domination and power over bodies and spaces. Flags predetermine identity, including some and excluding others. This potent symbolism is part and parcel of a system of order that influences, at any given moment, each and every individual.

Using a self-generated system, Sonja Hornung generates patterns for flags that have no historical basis: flags with no meaning. Instead, these new flags are formed, as much as possible, by chance. The artist nonetheless retains the freedom to alter, exchange or add new parameters to her system. The production of meaningless flags thus unfolds as a process. As such, it borders on self-contradiction. While the original significance of the flag is emptied out, its framework is retained and refilled with form and colour. Thus, processes of disassembly and reassembly render visible the dynamics of the very system from which the flag emerges. Thus the artist brings together two mutually exclusive tropes, 'flag' and 'meaninglessness', opening an ambivalent space that might scrutinize the mechanism anchoring a flag to its symbolic meaning and its actual territory.

Borders exist, but the absence of borders is born out of the same reality. Those borders traditionally maintained between nation-states, between ethnic groups, or between types of bodies go hand in hand with their opposite: an apparent borderlessness that is rapidly emerging as an ever-more complex part of the everyday, be it in the form of global knowledge and information-sharing, or the transnational market of finance and trade. This 'borderlessness' is such that that it produces new, less visible forms of exclusion. Sonja Hornung's long-term project probes this ambivalent space.

Importantly, the project moves beyond the abstract, claiming public space as the concrete realm where these tensions are played out. Through public interventions, Sonja Hornung attempts to render visible a troubled borderless political space, and as a part of this she has annexed used and unused flagpoles within the city.

Several months after the original exhibition project, Opened traces the stories and individual marks left by these interventions.

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