The National Mall in Washington is hosting an art installation to honour those who died due to coronavirus in the United States. Created by social practice artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg, ‘In America: Remember’ comprises 670,000 flags across 20 acres in memory of the pandemic’s victims. Each flag will bear a personalised message from loved ones of the deceased. Last year, Firstenberg created an outdoor installation of more than 267,000 white flags in Washington for Americans who had died of coronavirus up till then. ‘In America: How Could This Happen…’ was spread on 4 acres next to RFK Stadium.
“I wanted to focus on my message. I didn’t purposefully start out to do a large-scale installation. My outrage led me,” Firstenberg told NPR.
The 62-year-old artist said she began to visualise the installations in March 2020 after Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said that Americans should be willing to take the risk of the coronavirus to protect the the country’s economy.
“Taken holistically, this is a physical manifestation of empathy,” Firstenberg said during the opening ceremony on Friday.
The exhibition, which will run from September 17 to October 3, features 43 sections of white flags and 6 kilometre of walking paths, according to Firstenberg’s website.
The website terms ‘In America: Remember’ as the largest participatory art exhibition on the National Mall since the presentation of the AIDS Quilt in the 1980s.
Firstenberg said the flags are meant to mirror the headstones at Arlington National Cemetery.
With more than 660,000 people coronavirus-related deaths and over 41 million confirmed cases, the US remains the worst-affected country due to the pandemic.
Firstenberg said she purchased 630,000 white flags in June for her latest exhibition, but added another 60,000 after double checking the numbers against the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.