The Ottoman Empire. Tibet. Yugoslavia. The United Arab Republic.
Nation states that no longer exist but whose echoes still persist. And in the setting of the Venice Biennale, the soft power Olympiad, where the nations that still exist on the map duke it out, what do these spectral nations tell us about the fleeting nature of art and sovreignity?
Ivan Grubano's United Dead Nations seems like a simple and straightforward idea for that cavernous space. Then you get to thinking, how many years did it take him to scour the globe to find original flags from the dead countries he eulogizes on the walls? The flags that are reduced to dhobi wallah rags, dipped in paint and beaten against the floor, their blood and grit left for us to walk all over before we consider which pavilion to visit next.
Flags that from a distance look like collateral victims on war grounds.
But our own desires will soon enough take us elsewhere...we're free to continue roaming the international playground of art, free as such to skip from country to country.
But only if we can liberate ourselves from those who no longer have a nationhood to ascribe to. Those who for a variety of reasons exist now only like faint memories or in old atlases. Collectables in an age when the symbolism of art and soft power representation can be stripped at any moment of their significance, and be sent the way of obsolete and now powerless nations from history.