At the heart of the exhibition is The New Union Flag project, a proposal for a new flag that celebrates the UK’s cultural diversity. The project has toured the country engaging thousands of people with the piece dividing audiences, receiving critical acclaim mixed with online threats from those in the far right...
“Time for a new flag that represents multicultural Britain” – that’s the vision of British/Israeli artist Gil Mualem-Doron. Tired of hearing non-white friends, born and bred in this country, being asked where they are from or what they are doing here, Mualem-Doron took on the task of creating a new Union flag to represent the reality of Britain today.
His New Union Flag is based on the Union Jack where the blue, white and red colours have been replaced with numerous ethnic textile designs, which represent the multicultural makeup of Britain. In contrast to any other national flag, the New Union Flag is constantly transforming, reflecting the ever-changing composition of the nation itself.
"Britain needs to recognise its colonial past and multicultural present,” says Mualem-Doron. “Being born in London and of Arab-Jewish / European - Middle Eastern descent, the rise in xenophobia and nationalism is all too familiar. The flag is a response to this, but it goes beyond art. Hundreds of people have already signed a petition to discuss its adoption in Parliament, but I am yet to find the brave MP who will take this proposal to Parliament".
The project has been previously exhibited as a large interactive installation at the Tate Modern, Turner Contemporary, Liverpool Museum, People’s History Museum Manchester, and the Jewish Museum, as well as at interactive interventions in places such as Blackpool Beach, Totnes Market Square, Oldham Library and in several pro refugees rallies.
Mualem-Doron: “The reception of it really varies from great acceptance in the South East, to very mixed reactions in smaller, predominantly white towns and cities in the North, through to hostility, including condemnations and death threats, on the project’s Facebook page – especially after a photo of Jeremy Corbyn with the flag was posted there.”
But geography wasn’t the only factor in the division in attitudes, says Mualem-Doron: “Gender, age, race and sexuality also played important roles”. These responses were captured in an hour-long video documentation and a series of text-based collages.
The responses of visitors to the Rich Mix, in one of the most multicultural areas of the UK, London’s East End, will be tested via a series of workshops with families, schools children and adults as well as informal interventions in public spaces in the area – so watch this space.
The exhibition will include two other participatory projects: Mesubim: a large room installation dealing with issues of place, memory and belonging that was created with refugees from 20 countries who are members of the Migrant English Project; and a Protesting For Diversity project that was carried out in several cities across England as a response to the growth of nationalism, xenophobia and hate crimes.
Supported by the Art Council England and Counterpoints Arts, the exhibition
entitled The New Babylonians will take place at the Rich Mix in London between 5th and 27th September, and will include free workshops and a photo shoot of visitors with the flag.
Rich Mix is at 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA. Entry is free, wheelchair accessible and suitable for all ages.
The New Babylonians: https://www.richmix.org.uk/events/exhibitions/new-babylonians-exhibition-gil-mualem-doron
Gil Mualem-Doron (UK/Israel) has been is asocially and politically engaged artist working in various media including installations and photography. He has exhibited works at places such as the Tate Modern, Liverpool Museum, People’s History Museum (Manchester), EAST66 – Centre For Urbanism (Amsterdam). He has won several grants, prizes and commissions from the British Council, The Art Council England and the Henri Ford Foundation, Counterpoints Arts and Platforma. More can be seen on www.a4community.com
The exhibition is supported by:
Arts Council England
The Migrant English Project
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
'Gil Mualem-Doron seldom shies away from direct action and the catalytic encounter. Whether engaging with questions of identity – about race, class, sexuality, or global displacement and new modes of citizenship - Gil draws us into often-difficult yet urgent public conversations. Using carefully honed agitprop and site-specific performance, Gil is a hugely erudite socially engaged practitioner. A quintessential ‘artist-as-agitator’ encouraging his audience to speak up, participate and radically question the status quo in what are increasingly challenging times.' - Áine O’Brien and Almir Koldzic – Co-Directors, Counterpoints Arts
FIND OUT MORE
Follow: @newunionflag / @gil_mualem_doron
Watch: New Union Flag
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Suitable for all ages