White Flag of Surrender | Graceful Retreat

Xavier Cortada,

Xavier Cortada, “Graceful Retreat,” silkscreen on white flag, 2015 (created during the Rising Waters Confab at the Rauschenberg Residency)

I created a white flag for us to distribute to communities once they accept that they have no choice but to surrender to Antarctica’s melting glaciers.  As they cede the shoreline to the rising sees, communities will place the white flag on the ground and retreat gracefully.

I first used the concept of a white flag as a mechanism to mark our “surrender” to nature in 2010 as part of an artist’s residency at White Mountain National Forest.  There we were surrendering a road that had been washed by Hurricane Irene when Tunnel Brook (adjacent to it) overflowed.  Understanding that it couldn’t compete with nature, the forest service decided not to rebuild the road. See http://cortada.com/2012/TunnelBrook/ or scroll down…

This latest flag hangs at the Rauschenberg Studio.  It has a map of Antarctica silk screened on it to remind us of who we are surrendering it all to.

Surrender at Tunnel Brook

tunnel brook

Artist: Xavier Cortada
Title (Aqua):  “Surrender at Tunnel Brook”
When: Sunday, July 22nd, 2012 at 10am.
Where: Tunnel Brook Road (west of North Woodstock, NH), White Mountain National Forest
Who: Cortada, the forest’s hydrologist and participants.

Artist’s Statement:

Path dwellers heed:

Water carves the earth;
Sends the residue downstream and into the sea.
Sun, winds push the waves.

The ocean, heated, torments the skies;
Cycles its fury back to the land.
Carving anew.

Surrender at Tunnel Brook is a participatory performance where individuals will engage in the futile attempt of rerouting the flow of a brook at White Mountain National Forest to conditions prior to the natural disturbance caused by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

Participants will also create a ritualistic installation lining up 100 white flags amid boulders along the path where a man-made road ran prior to it being washed away by Irene.   Placed sequentially, the flags will recall the traditional process of charting the path of a hurricane as points on a map.

White Mountain National Forest hydrologist Sheela Johnson will join artist-in-residence Xavier Cortada in addressing the audience, explaining the forest’s watersheds, the storm event and why the forest has decided not to rebuild the portion of the road washed away by Irene.

http://cortada.com/2012/TunnelBrook/

Impact of Hurricane Irene at White Mountain National Forest: Xavier Cortada, “Surrender at Tunnel Brook,” 2012 (http://cortada.com/2012/TunnelBrook/)

Impact of Hurricane Irene at White Mountain National Forest: Xavier Cortada, “Surrender at Tunnel Brook,” 2012 (http://cortada.com/2012/TunnelBrook/)

The White Mountains after Hurricane Irene: Xavier Cortada, “Surrender at Tunnel Brook,” 2012 (http://cortada.com/2012/TunnelBrook/)

The White Mountains after Hurricane Irene: Xavier Cortada, “Surrender at Tunnel Brook,” 2012 (http://cortada.com/2012/TunnelBrook/)

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