Two Insignias (2021)
OCDChinatown, New York, USA.
February 17 – March 17, 2021
Sat – Sun 12pm to 6pm
Curated by Pau Llapur
OCDChinatown is proud to present Two Insignias by Carlos Martiel. Exhibited for the first time, this work includes a diptych of intervened American flags and a video where the flag is activated at a NYC protest in 2020.
Carlos Martiel’s work proposes his own physicality to sublimate the struggles of the black body, using symbols that reflect on a systemic racism normalized through acculturation. Using himself as a channeling device, he directly emphasizes and amplifies social situations that are often experienced in the abstract, especially by those who are not explicitly implicated.
The American flag is one such symbol. Two flags, stained red with blood. A sound piercing in my ears at this realization strikes; an imaginary close-up scene of two hands rubbing blood and working it into the heavy, satin fabric plays in my head. Upon closer inspection, in its ochre ambiguity, it reminds us of the mirage that exists between symbol, personality, and community. The United States, the community of people this flag represents, becomes organic as the trappings of socialization are stripped away. For centuries, communities of Afro American and Afro Latin immigrants have been subjected to fear, violence and invisibility. Oppression could turn passive or furious, but neither happens in Martiel’s work. Instead, the flag has been spun into a living being, turning up at the protest for civil rights in the 21st century, amidst a struggle against social and institutional forces that intend to stop the flow of the artist’s own blood and quell the spirit of the tyrannized.
This is an offering. Unlike the violence that transforms our identities into invisibly shedding tears, it stakes a bold, fluorescently visible new claim on the symbol. The flag exists as itself, with all its fraught histories, but is seen here in a state of regeneration, in the crowd, bearing the blood of two Afro Americans and an Afro Latino immigrant.