Busting through Globalization: A Look at Adbusters One Flag Competition

Adbusters, a not-for-profit organization, describes itself as “a global network of culture jammers and creatives working to change the way information flows, the way corporations wield power, and the way meaning is produced in our society.”(www.adbusters.org) With the want to change a capitalist driven world, this British Columbian based company has worked since 1988 to change the way we think about consumerism, and the impacts we make on our world.

In a time where we are “faced with some of the most daunting global challenges in human history, ” (Adbusters.org) Adbusters is running its “One Flag Competition,” to find a flag that is representative of all cultures, all communities, and ultimately of the world as a global community. From over 1000 entries, the competition has been narrowed down to 32 flags, to vote from. Out of these 32 flags a common theme of unity, and globalization arises. Looking at just one of these flags, one can see how a piece of art can represent a host of ideas, and in turn make a stand for a world in which we are able to work together.

Flag of the Pop World (photo below), a piece by Andy Shawber of Seattle, Washington, is representative of how “our national identities are increasingly becoming abstract,” because of the increase of globalization. We continue to live together in this world, the colours we create, being side by side in his flag. This piece uses a range of colours across the spectrum, which “depicts the blend of national colors as kitschy and banal” (Shawber). By using all those colours that are seen in flags around the world and mashing them all together, to create something new, Shawber is able to disassociate these colours with what they originally have represented and instead create a new flag that shows the break down of each individual country to form a new global community.

The idea of finding one flag that is able to represent the world coming together to survive, as a single nation seems to be an unattainable ideal. Yet when one takes a look at the rate of globalization, and the already increasing coming together, in this world, a flag to represent, and support the idea of working together as one, is changing. A flag such as the ones represented in this competition, shows an awareness of what is going on around us, and shows that we are not only living as individuals, but are a part of something bigger around us, something that is subject to change and always subject to improvement. A contest such as this brings awareness to a larger group of people, using art to create change and consciousness of what is going on in the world around us.

This work as a piece of global art shows how expression through art, literature, etc… is able to create representational ideas, that can bring forth ideas with just one look. This contest is able to use the created images to bring up ideas of globalization with just one look at each flag.
By Heather Palmer