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La Bandiera per la Pace / The Flag Of Peace (2003)

Peter Davis, Vancouver (2006)…

I visited Italy in the spring of 2003 after the invasion of Iraq.  Leading up to that invasion, as is well known, there were huge demonstrations worldwide.  Nowhere was there such a massive response to the American aggression as in Italy, where people turned out in their hundreds of thousands to register protest not only against the invasion but against the Berlusconi government's - their government's - participation in it.  These protests continued.

Visiting a number of cities, I became quickly aware of the omnipresence of the symbol of opposition chosen by the Italian people, the rainbow-coloured Bandiera per la Pace, the flag of peace.  Virtually everywhere I turned to take a photo of a building, a statue, a piazza, the flag would be somewhere in the viewfinder. 

So I set out to document the flag in its multifarious manifestations - hanging from buildings, in the window of a restaurant, adorning a cutout of the David statue, caught in a tree, pasted onto a motorbike, draped around the shoulders, worn as pants, and, most audaciously and gloriously, in Florence, flying high in the sky above the Stars-and-Stripes signalling the American Consulate, in the form of a kite.

In the human condition, far from being abnormal, war is the norm.  Peace is as precious as it is elusive.  In all of these photos from Italy, with the exception of the Pisan murals, there is at least one Pace flag, sometimes several.  Sometimes, the Bandiera per la Pace is very hard to detect, like peace itself.  But it is there, somewhere, if only you can find it…

The photos were taken in Milan, Pisa, Siena, Florence, and Garda.

Peace should be as banal as washing on the line, a backdrop to the caresses of lovers, friends and families.