Both “WAR”diary and New York Garbage Flag Profile originated during Michalis Pichler’s residency in New York as a 2003 DAAD Arts Fellow. Taking up themes and formal strategies introduced in his newspaper piece from 2002, New York Times Flag Profile, the books investigate the phenomenon of patriotism in post-9/11 New York.
In “WAR”diary, headlines from the Daily News are collaged onto the stockpages of the New York Times, creating subtle ghosts of words like OUTRAGE! BAGHDAD, and CAUGHT on top of or cut into endless columns of numbers. New York Garbage Flag Profile documents mass-produced materials like paper cups and plastic bags emblazoned with American flags that the artist found discarded in public spaces in New York. Photographs of the objects are accompanied by transcriptions of the texts printed right onto them; Picheler refers to these transcriptions as poetry.
Though he is traditionally trained in architecture and sculpture and often involved in labor-intensive work processes, Pichler’s practice seems less concerned with artistic disciplines and more concerned with individual digestion of and response to cultural conundrums. Using public space as both source material and stage for his projects, he deploys the Situationist strategies of derive and détournement that position him as something of an urban trickster.