The Flag is the second part of Köken Ergun’s video series about the state-controlled national day ceremonies of the Turkish Republic. Shot during the April 23rd Children’s Day, which marks the establishment of the new Turkish Parliament, and the official demise of the Ottoman Empire back in 1920, this split screen film documents a pompous patriotic performance devised by elders to be performed by children. Hosted by the mayor and governor of Istanbul, with the participation of a high ranking general, the ceremony features poems and oaths read out loud by primary schools students, while patriotism becomes a hard-lined nationalism. One of them; The Flag is recited passionately by a girl who vows to “destroy the nest of any bird who doesn’t salute [her country’s] flag in flight” and “dig the grave of anyone who doesn’t look at the flag the way [she does].”
Born in Istanbul, in 1976, Köken Ergun studied acting at the İstanbul University and completed his postgraduate diploma degree in Ancient Greek Literature at King’s College London, followed by an MA degree on Art History at the Bilgi University. After working with American theatre director Robert Wilson, Ergun became more involved with video and film. His multi-channel video installations have been exhibited internationally at institutions including Palais de Tokyo, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, KIASMA, Digital ArtLab Tel Aviv, Casino Luxembourg, Protocinema, Wilhelm Hack Museum, SALT and Kunsthalle Winterthur. His film works have received several awards at film festivals including the “Tiger Award for Short Film” at the 2007 Rotterdam Film Festival and the “Special Mention Prize” at the 2013 Berlinale. Ergun’s works are included in public collections such as the Centre Pompidou, the Greek National Museum of Contemporary Art and the Kadist Foundation.