Nato Thompson

Politically engaged artistic director of nonprofit Creative Time, now heading up Philadelphia Contemporary

Flying above the New York headquarters of the commissioning organisation Creative Time, where Thompson was artistic director until November, a different flag designed by an artist is raised each month as part of its 16-flag Pledges of Allegiance project. From Ahmet Ögüt’s instruction in black and white, ‘If You’d Like This Flag in Colors, Burn It’, to Marilyn Minter’s multicoloured command to ‘RESIST’, each is a small protest woven into daily life. That it’s managed to get other art institutions to fly the flags simultaneously speaks of Creative Time’s reach. With its annual summit (this year held in Toronto) a focus point for the politically engaged, the organisation has set out an ambitious trajectory of exploring what art can do in the world (a recent commissioned Sophie Calle performance in a cemetery notwithstanding). That’s something that Thompson does in his 2017 book, Culture as Weapon, and will no doubt take with him as the inaugural artistic director of Philadelphia Contemporary