Flag Day at the Inauguration
Text & photos by Paul Clemence
The National Mall in Washington DC during the Presidential Inauguration is usually a major visitor draw, with locals and visitors alike wanting to partake of the celebrations. Sadly, this year, with the pandemic and security concerns, the area was off-limits to all except the press and a throng of National Guard soldiers.
To make up for the absence of the energizing enthusiasm of the crowds, the Presidential Inauguration Committee turned to art for inspiration, organizing a striking installation of 200,000 flags covering the whole extension of the Mall central lawns.
The flags, from every US state and territory, combined to create a colorful, arresting effect, not unlike a sprawling field of flowers. But like a Buddhist sand mandala, it was a display of ephemeral beauty, with the removal of the flags starting bright and early the day after the Inauguration.
Nevertheless, for the few that ventured out to soak in the atmosphere of that historic time in our nation’s capital, the flags provided unforgettable moments and sights (and if you were patient and lucky, even a few souvenirs!).
Paul Clemence is an award-winning photographer and writer exploring the cross-section of design, art and architecture. A published author, his volume Mies van der Rohe’s FARNSWORTH HOUSE remains to this day the most complete photo documentation of that iconic modern residential design, and a selection of these photos is part of the Mies van der Rohe Archives housed by MoMa, New York. He is widely published in arts, architecture and lifestyle magazines like Metropolis, ArchDaily, Architizer, Modern, Casa Vogue Brasil and others. Archi-Photo, aka Architecture Photography, his Facebook photo blog quickly became a photography and architecture community, with over 970,000 followers worldwide. An architect by training, Clemence is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.