In the summer of 2020, as Americans were cautiously emerging from the first Covid-19 lockdown, multimedia artists Joe McShea and Edgar Mosa left New York City for Fire Island, a long stretch of land located right south of Long Island, and began making flags. . McShea started out in photography while Mosa trained as a jeweler, but the two, now partners in work and in life, have long been preoccupied with the interaction between fabric and the elements. In 2018, inspired by the Baroque frescoes at the 13th-century Palazzo Monti, in Brescia, Italy, Where they are artists, they have developed a series of ephemeral sculptures by wrapping stone stairs in ribbons and photographing fabrics in the water. As an afterthought, they also created a flag made of ribbons that were fixed to a cardboard tube with masking tape. Although it was simple, they felt it was strong and certain, and things were going to happen two summers later, when the duo began sewing colorful hand-dyed silks, ribbons and tulle up to the length of the ribbon, fold it in half, act as the lugs – or, as they say, lift the ribbons – and tie them with simple bows scavenging bamboo poles that they had planted on the beaches of Fire Island Pines.
Even though the poles lay in the sand for only a few hours, during periods of sunshine with lots of wind (“We always watch the sky to capture the perfect moment for them to fly,” says McShea) , they proved an invitation: An eclectic crowd began to gather in the same spot to watch the couple’s latest creations blow in the wind. “People were drawn to them,” recalls McShea. “They have a hypnotic quality.” The gatherings, in turn, dispelled his and Mosa’s suspicions about Fire Island, which was known as a destination for parties. “We see a lot of creative people looking for solitude and wanting to work,” says Mosa. “We were able to assemble a small family.”
What do the settings mean? A lot of people want to know. But McShea, a 36-year-old blonde Marylander and the more famous of the duo, and Mosa, who grew up in Portugal, has dark hair and is also 36, have been criticized many times. In contrast to the national flags that McShea mulled over in his atlas as a child, these flags are not symbolic but a call to contemplation. “Instead of telling you, ‘Come here, feel this, march, fight, kill, whatever,’ they don’t tell you back,” he explains. “And when they’re stripped of that meaning, all that’s left is this physical object, this beautiful woven thread interacting with light, water, air.” Plus, Mosa adds, “They’re often a really good means of breaking up small talk.”
Flags also help cut the buzz on social media, which is how Jonathan Anderson, creative director of Spanish fashion house Loewe, came across them. Brooklyn-based artist Doron Langberg, who is friends with McShea and Mosa, painted the couple one afternoon in Pines as part of a 2020 commission from the Public Art Foundation. Anderson bought the painting and curious to learn more about its subjects, searched the couple on Instagram. In July 2021, he texted men asking for more information about their work. “I feel like [the flags] Anderson said. “I grew up in Northern Ireland in the early 90s” so when I think of chess, I always think of the negative connotation – two-sided”. On the contrary, these flags appear to be “symbols of a better future”.
This past weekend, the couple’s 87 ribbon flags attracted a new audience: attendees of Loewe’s fall 2022 menswear show, held at the Tennis Club de Paris, 16th arrondissement of the city. Dressed in rich looks with surrealist touches, such as jumpsuits with LED lights that glow just below the surface, conch shell handbags and coats embellished with round manhole covers, the The model flexes across the sand-covered floor – 40 tons of it, to be exact – and through the honor guard-style fabric formation. Hung from a network of slanted aluminum stakes, each just over 21 feet long, are roughly eight miles of silk with a spectrum of 13 candy-like colors. Unlike on Fire Island, there is no wind to move them around. (A wind machine was considered but was ruled out.) Instead, Mosa said, “we went with that tension – a flag of silence and asking, wait, a little breeze to do. it flutters.” Indeed, there is a sense of anticipation every time the ribbons vibrate and a new pattern emerges beneath them. And certainly the context enhances the sense of displacement evoked by the suit – as if the men were walking through a forest in a strange but beautiful parallel world.
McShea and Mosa arrived in Paris four months before the show to create location-specific work. After visiting the approximately 15,000 square foot site and getting to know the Loewe team, they began to devise a layout in which they could showcase as many flags as possible. “From the very beginning, we wanted to fill the void,” says McShea. (A short film by British director Stephen Isaac Wilson chronicling the process, including a sort of artistic warm-up during a side trip to Ibiza in December, can be viewed on Loewe’s YouTube and Instagram channels.) It was an experience that was meaningful to McShea and Mosa’s practice and relationship. After all, art has always been their preferred method of communication – their second date included a photo session, held in McShea’s Williamsburg, Brooklyn living room, with jewelry Mosa had designed next. Anderson, too, is inspired by artists and producers – in 2016 he helped found the Loewe Craft Award, which supports artisans around the world with a prize of 50,000 euros ( around $57,000) and an exhibition – and more than most fashion designers, often collaborate with. “I feel that my work, what I do, is ultimately [to create] a platform for people,” he said, and to come up with things with creative integrity. “
In six months or so, as the men’s collection begins to drop in price, McShea and Mosa flags will be installed in Loewe stores around the world. At that point, the artists will return to New York, and they hope to plan their next project. Right now, though, they’re pinching themselves. McShea, a lover of poetry who tends to underline passages that resonate or contextualize the duo’s work, quotes a few lines from Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges: “The flags sang: up their colors / and the wind is shoots between the hands / The world grows like a bright tree. ”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/24/t-magazine/loewe-fall-mens-flags.html Artists behind the ribbon-filled set of Loewe .’s men’s performance