One of the 193 flags in the Tom Tom Founders Festival’s “White Flags” exhibit installed on the Downtown Mall just two days ago has fallen, causing festival organizers to remove the entire installation.
Tom Tom organizers stated in a release they are unsure whether the fallen flag, which hit the ground April 5, was the result of compromised equipment used to hang the flags or recent heavy winds.
Because of the wind-tunnel effect on the Downtown Mall, the hanging system for the white flags, which represent the member states of the United Nations, was upgraded to a structure of aluminum rods, steel cables and steel swivel hooks. The flags, which have been on display all over the world, were hung 16 feet in the air on a wire system between trees.
Artist Aaron Fein says inspiration for the exhibit came in the years after September 11, as he watched American flag bumper stickers fade to white.
“The strong likelihood is that one clip and one clip only had a critical failure, but with the public nature of the exhibit, and the fact that so many pedestrians would be passing under the flags, it was in the interest of public safety to simply remove the installation,” Tom Tom Founders Festival Director Paul Beyer said in a press release. “Obviously this was very distressing to all the festival staff, and to the artist, because this installation took months of preparation.”
Once removed, the additional 192 flags were inspected, and no other hanging clips showed signs of damage or fraying, according to the release. Festival organizers are now working to install the flags elsewhere at a lower altitude.