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IN PHOTOS: Washington, D.C. exhibit honours COVID-19 deaths with 650K flags

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A new exhibit is on display at Washington, D.C.’s National Mall to honour the close to 680,000 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19.

The exhibit, titled, “In America: Remember,” features 650,000 white flags laid upright over 20 acres and 43 sections, each to represent a death from the virus.

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The monument is the second from artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg, who did a similar project last year with 267,000 flags, representing the COVID-19 deaths in the country at the time.

“When numbers get so large, it becomes difficult to really understand them, so I, as a visual artist, wanted to make the number physical,” she said as she oversaw the project’s construction.

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“Taken holistically, this is a physical manifestation of empathy,” Firstenberg said during the opening ceremony of the art installation.

To date, 678,407 Americans have died from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University, and currently an average of 2,000 die a day from the virus.

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The exhibit opened Friday and will close Oct. 3, 2021.

It also features around six kilometres of walking paths and white benches for visitors to sit and reflect.

Firstenberg herself has reflected on the immense grief the deaths have brought, to the point where it has overwhelmed her.

“I was just so intent on planting all these flags and making people understand, that once people began laying on top of my art their own grief and experiences, it became truly overwhelming,” Firstenberg said.

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“There were times when I quested to just be alone with my flags last fall when I first did this iteration of the art,” she continued, “because I just had to find a quiet space to deal with all the pain that my art was representing.”

The flags are meant to mimic the headstones at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, which hosts around 400,000 graves from those who have died from U.S. conflicts, beginning with the Civil War.

It took workers days to plant the flags by hand. See the exhibit yourself below:

People visit artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s “In America: Remember,” a temporary art installation made up of white flags to commemorate Americans who have died of COVID-19, on the National Mall in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky).
A message of memorial is written on one of the 660,000 white flags, representing the number of US lives lost to Covid-19, on the National Mall in Washington, DC, USA, Thursday, September 16, 2021. The project, by artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg, titled ‘In America: Remember’, will be on display September 17, 2021 through October 3, 2021. Photo by Rod Lamkey/CNP/ABACAPRESS.COM.
A message of memorial is written on one of the 660,000 white flags, representing the number of US lives lost to Covid-19, on the National Mall in Washington, DC, USA, Thursday, September 16, 2021. The project, by artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg, titled ‘In America: Remember’, will be on display September 17, 2021 through October 3, 2021. Photo by Rod Lamkey/CNP/ABACAPRESS.COM.
White flags stand near the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. The flags, which will number more than 630,000 when completed, are part of artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s temporary art installation, “In America: Remember,” in remembrance of Americans who have died of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky).
With the Washington Monument in the background, people look at white flags that are part of artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s temporary art installation, “In America: Remember,” in remembrance of Americans who have died of COVID-19, on the National Mall in Washington, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. The installation consists of more than 630,000 flags. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson).
A person looks at white flags that are part of artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s temporary art installation, “In America: Remember,” in remembrance of Americans who have died of COVID-19, on the National Mall in Washington, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. The installation consists of more than 630,000 flags. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson).
Zoe Nassimoff, of Argentina, looks at white flags that are part of artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s temporary art installation, “In America: Remember,” in remembrance of Americans who have died of COVID-19, on the National Mall in Washington, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. Nassimoff’s grandparent who lived in Florida died from COVID-19. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson).
Zoe Nassimoff, of Argentina, holds a white flag that is part of artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s temporary art installation, “In America: Remember,” in remembrance of Americans who have died of COVID-19, on the National Mall in Washington, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. Nassimoff wrote on the flag in memory of her grandparent who lived in Florida and died from COVID-19. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson).
As the sunsets white flags are displayed as part of artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s temporary art installation, “In America: Remember,” in remembrance of Americans who have died of COVID-19, on the National Mall in Washington, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. The installation consists of more than 630,000 flags. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson).
With the Washington Monument in the background, people look at white flags that are part of artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s temporary art installation, “In America: Remember,” in remembrance of Americans who have died of COVID-19, on the National Mall in Washington, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. The installation consists of more than 630,000 flags. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson).
A message marks a white flag that is part of artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s “In America: Remember,” a temporary art installation to commemorate Americans who have died of COVID-19, on the National Mall in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky).
People visit artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s “In America: Remember,” a temporary art installation made up of white flags to commemorate Americans who have died of COVID-19, on the National Mall in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky).
People visit artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s “In America: Remember,” a temporary art installation made up of white flags to commemorate Americans who have died of COVID-19, on the National Mall in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky).
Visitors look out at artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s “In America: Remember,” a temporary art installation made up of white flags to commemorate Americans who have died of COVID-19, on the National Mall in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky).
People visit artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s “In America: Remember,” a temporary art installation made up of white flags to commemorate Americans who have died of COVID-19, on the National Mall in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky).
White flags that are part of artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s “In America: Remember,” a temporary art installation to commemorate Americans who have died of COVID-19, stand on the National Mall in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky).

-With files from Reuters

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