As part of the artist’s social practice, the “Native Flags” project, initiated by Xavier Cortada in 2008, serves to have its participants make a literal declaration of war against climate change, as well as making a symbolic gesture of reclamation by nature.
Seen throughout Cortada’s work is a focus on developing signifiers within communities. In “Native Flags”, the green project flag that accompanies the performance behaves as a statement of reclamation, a point of departure for participants to initiate new action. In turn, the environmental impact of “Native Flags” is amphibolic, as it not only terraforms the urban landscape, an action against climate change through the initiation of a natural tree canopy, it also spurs conversation throughout various communities for other actions to be taken.
Through the planting of a native tree alongside an easily identifiable green project flag, Cortada invites his participants to state, “I hereby reclaim this land for nature”. The act planting the green flag effectively transforms their actions into a catalyst for conversation, while their statement of reclamation includes them as an integral part of a large-scale performance.