HOME: Tinka Bechert

The simple yet powerful identification of citizens with a flag - a symbol of belonging, nationhood, residence, and identity - is the subject of Tinka Bechert’s New Flags.

Responding to her own status as German and “Irish-by-osmosis” as a newly normal condition for migrants in multicultural societies, her work counters the staid values of nationalism; the artist proposes, instead, a symbol for these emergent communities, aligned by political leanings, economic opportunities, gendered experiences, and other shared interests. As Bechert explains: “these new groups could be seen as nations within nations that will therefore need more specific flags.” 

Her work uses painting and textile, stretched canvas and loose fabric, collaged materials and patterned motifs, to stitch together a composite of familiar symbols and personal iconography. A glimpse of stars and stripes in the upper corner fractures into streaks of diagonal lines, reminiscent of barbed wire, while a small rectangular panel of blue, red, and dotted patterning, provides a bridge to another canvas. Swathes of colour and fabric hang from the edge of the frame while, looming above and against a backdrop of swirling black clouds, a vivid bouquet of flowers stands out. In this combination of different media, the merging of distinct approaches, and the shifts in format, scale, and solidity, Bechert’s flag dismantles and deconstructs the notion of an uniform, innate national identity.