Rini Hurkmans
Flag of Compassion
2002 – 2023

Introduction

Flag of Compassion is a conceptual artwork that consists of the word compassion, the Flag as an instrument, a Manifesto, the Unda Foundation, and a distribution network.

Flag of Compassion is a conceptual artwork that consists of the word compassion, the Flag as an instrument, a Manifesto, the Unda Foundation, and a distribution network.

The Flag of Compassion is a symbol of the concept of compassion and thus conveys a universal value. It is a flag for and of everyone. The Flag of Compassion is a means to express the human feeling of compassion independent of politics, legal causes, religion, race and gender. The Flag is produced in a large edition and could be bought through the distribution network. By purchasing – and acting with – the Flag one could make their own views on compassion visible and heard.

The Flag is used in many different ways and some of these Stories are captured on this website. The Archive shows the history of Flag of Compassion.
Some people use the Flag privately to visualize that the world needs more compassion. Or they give the Flag, as a present to someone whom they feel is a compassionate person. For example, Princess Beatrix and the President of the International Criminal Court have received a Flag. Others use the Flag during demonstrations to draw attention to the notion of compassion in the context of a specific manifestation. The Flag is also often used for weddings and other special occasions, like PhD promotions, as a symbol and as a gift.

Try-out with the Flag of Compassion at the demonstration against the war in Iraq in Amsterdam on March 22,
not as a statement for or against the war, but as a concern for all the people involved.

Short history of the artwork

The Flag of Compassion was designed in 2002. As the initiator of the conceptual artwork, Rini Hurkmans did a try-out with the Flag at the demonstration against the war in Iraq in 2003 in Amsterdam on March 22. Afterwards, the artwork developed into a symbol of compassion that can be used by anyone who wants to express and give meaning to it in their own way. Since 2008, Flag of Compassion functioned independently because it was owned and managed by the Unda Foundation. The first official presentation of the Flag was at Sonsbeek 2008: Grandeur, curated by Anna Tilroe. View the Archive to learn more about the history of the artwork, all the actions the Flag was used for, and the closure of the artwork in 2023.

The artwork in society

Flag of Compassion is a conceptual work of art that functions both within the field of the arts and in society as a whole. Through the work, it is explored how the idea of compassion operates in our society. The artwork contains an important paradox. A flag, an instrument that is used to distinguish yourself from others, and the notion of compassion, as the capacity to feel a deep sense of equality, seem incompatible.

This tension between differentiation and equality is the conceptual core of the artwork that is being researched in Making Waves, a nomadic movement revolving around Flag of Compassion. Every edition of Making Waves develops through new collaborations to approach, every time differently, ethical questions within society. More about Making Waves and its six editions.

The video Flag Twirler is part of the installation Homeland, Part V.
Flag twirler: Mr. Engelen from Deurne, the Netherlands.

The video Flag Twirler shows a flag twirler performing a flag patterns with the Flag of Compassion. This flag pattern, 'a prayer of the flag', is a traditional and historical flag performance; the twirlers wave a pattern with the flag to symbolically express the fight against evil and injustice, how good conquers evil.

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