Rene Matić is a London-based artist, poet and writer, and they work mainly with photography, film and sculpture. Through their work, they reimagine the complexities between queerness, West Indian and the working-class culture in Britain.
This artwork is from Rene Matić’s ongoing photography series flags for countries that don’t exist but bodies that do (2018-ongoing). This series is a personal diary documenting Matić’s community and family (chosen and otherwise), as well as a portrait and deconstruction of contemporary Britain. This work was presented alongside Matić’s exhibition at the South London Gallery upon this rock in 2022. The exhibition explored themes of subculture, faith and family as well as continuing the artist’s longstanding interest in notions of ‘Britishness’.
The photograph depicts a housing estate in south London with England flags surrounding the building. Titled Kirby Estate, Bermondsey, it is close to where the gallery and the artist are based in Peckham. Flags recur in Matić’s practice, both as mediums in their own right and depicted through film and photography. National flags are potent signifiers of patriotism, citizenship, national identity and symbolic ownership in the colonial context. Flags are also tools of protest. When engaging with the Union Jack or St George’s Cross, Matić seeks to question who is included and excluded from a claim to ‘Britishness’.