Elsa Werth
Color Strip

In the video Color Strip by Elsa Werth two-dimensional versions of all the national flags of the world (197 in all) are compiled into a long horizontal strip. The video is presented on a large flat-screen, approximating the size and dimensions of a national flag. As each flag slides across the screen, connections between the colors, signs, and forms of different countries and parts of the world create unexpected associations. The flow occasionally pauses briefly to form new graphic compositions. These pauses form color and graphic snapshots that implicitly form connection, break national coherence, and form non-countries. If flags represent national identity, then these are examples of cultural hybridity. Defying easy notions of sovereignty, these disruptions of national iconography give way to new horizons: a cosmopolitical future. With this work, Werth invites us to experience new conceptual proximities, a geography subject to redefinition.

Through an economy of means, Elsa Werth makes purposefully non-spectacular gestures as forms of resistance, disruption,  and transformation. Her work combines a pursuit of simplicity, clarity, and efficiency, but engages large scale subjects, and consequential systems of exchange and representation. At the edge of design, her practice explores the power of context, association, often in tension with commonplace activities, applications, and function. Werth recently won the Ricard prize, with a project that involved coins, transforming a simple game of chance, and a hack of French currency.