ROOFTOP GALLERY 2016.4 MFairbanks Knot Number One

Marianne Fairbanks

Knot Number One

September 2016

Collectively, these flags diagram the steps necessary to tie a weaver’s knot – a knot employed to join two threads, to fix a broken warp or tie a new warp onto a loom. In this sense, they can be read as practical instructions, communicated in bold colors and graphic patterns. The flags transcend the literal knot and beg consideration of the figurative – that being the symbolic power of flags to unify people, to rally them to a common cause and to serve as a patriotic reminder of the national ties that bind.

The diagrams also explore the difference between conceptual understanding and physical dexterity – the chasm between the representation of a process and the physical execution of that process. This mirrors the chasm between the lofty ideals embodied in flags, and the frank difficulty of realizing those ideals in practice.

Seen from one sequence, the flags illustrate how to tie a knot. Seen from the opposite direction, they show how a knot can be undone. Acknowledging both possibility and peril, these flags take as their symbol the very process that may leave us either united or untied.