Across the course of his career, Japanese artist Yukinori Yanagi has found ways to collaborate with the tiny little world of ants in his artwork. In The World Flag Ant Farm, Yanagi created a series of world flags by pouring colorful sand into a labyrinth of plexiglass boxes connected by tubes. He then introduced live ants into the art farm and let them go about their daily lives. In the process of tunneling through the sand, the ants created cracks in the flags and mixed the colors of each country’s identifying design, resulting in their very own version of the United Nations.
The symbolic movement of the ants across sandy borders is a statement on national identity and the division of cultures across the world. As the ants work to transport food and sand through the system, the sands evolve over time and the divided system breaks down into an ambiguous blend of flags. Yanagi personally identifies with the project and he says, “My works are borders I have had to cross or barriers I have confronted in trying to define myself as a Japanese."