The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (MOCA) recently made a significant addition to its permanent collection by acquiring Trinket, a large custom flag created by the Chicago-born artist Pope.L. Originally showcased as the centerpiece of a 2015 exhibition at the museum, the flag has been on loan to MOCA ever since, captivating visitors with its imposing presence and thought-provoking message.
Trinket: Overcoming Logistical Challenges
The acquisition of Trinket was not without its hurdles. The flag, measuring an impressive 16 feet wide and 45 feet long, requires the constant assistance of four large industrial fans to maintain its striking motion. Obtaining and operating these fans proved to be a logistical and financial challenge for MOCA. However, undeterred by these obstacles, the museum was determined to secure the artwork as a valuable addition to its collection.
Trinket: Acquisition in Two Forms
In a creative solution to display the artwork effectively, MOCA decided to acquire Trinket in two distinct forms. The first form is a tattered flag, symbolizing the fragility of democracy, gracefully displayed on a long wall. Its appearance echoes the natural wear and tear that occurs with the passage of time, evoking a poignant reflection on the ever-changing state of democracy.
The second form consists of a folded flag encased in a plexiglass box, representing the significance of patriotism. This presentation preserves the essence of the artwork while underscoring the importance of national pride and unity.
The Message Behind Trinket
Pope.L conceived Trinket in 2008, inspired by media reports of politicians wearing American flag pins. In stark contrast to the small and inexpensive nature of these pins, Trinket boasts an immense size, making a bold statement about the insignificance of mere trinkets compared to the larger ideals they represent.
For Simpson, the curator involved in the acquisition, the American flag’s pivotal role in national elections and historical events like the January 6th riot ensures that Trinket will retain its profound meaning well into the future. The artist himself referred to the work as “time-based,” as the constant exposure to the elements causes the flag to shift and break down over time, creating an ever-evolving masterpiece that embodies the passage of time.
A Timeless Symbol of Democracy
The acquisition of Trinket marks a momentous addition to MOCA’s permanent collection. As a powerful symbol of the United States, the flag serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of democracy and national unity. Trinket’s profound message will undoubtedly resonate with visitors for years to come, sparking contemplation and discussions on the evolving nature of democracy and the enduring value of patriotism in an ever-changing world. MOCA’s decision to secure this significant artwork ensures that Trinket’s impact on audiences will remain undiminished, making it an invaluable asset to the museum’s artistic legacy.