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One World Flag is the latest project of the Munich photographer Thomas Mandl, whose main concern is to work on social and politically-motivated projects; among them this year was his photo campaign about the Football World Cup in Russia, which drew attention to sexism in football. Over the past three years he has been considering the idea of a flag for the whole world, and he is now introducing his design for such a One World Flag. This picture was taken close to Bad Gastein in Austria where he first photographed the flag.

”After completing a steep climb and an exhausting hike up to the Reedsee at 1800 metres, we were met by a fantastic view. There was already snow up on the peaks and autumn had turned most of the larches to gold. At that moment, the sun put in an appearance for just ten minutes and a strong breeze was blowing. It was then, after all the effort and a short pause to catch our breath, that this picture was taken. Lennart Pagel is the person you see in the photo; he’s also a photographer and part of the German Roamers who are dedicated to landscape photography, and who travel all over the world in search of stunning nature motifs. Lennart is one of my close friends with whom I had the chance to develop two further projects this year. I was spending a fair bit of time on a job in Bad Gastein, and he decided to come visit at short notice. Because we were unable to drag ourselves out of bed early enough for sunrise, we decided to hike and take photographs in the late afternoon sun.

Lennart is holding the One World Flag in his hand. It was in 2015 that I first asked myself why, in addition to all the country flags, there was not one flag for the whole world, a flag that would be accepted by all people as a symbol of togetherness, unity and peace. I decided to begin working on a design for a flag myself, so as to stimulate and move the discussion and development of such a One World Flag forward.

At the centre of my One World Flag is a blue circle – the Blue Planet. It is the place where we all live – with the exception of a few astronauts currently living in the International Space Station. And, I would have liked to have left it at that. However, because a round flag is hard to hoist, I was obliged to put it on a background surface with an additional colour. The question was, which one? Our planet is in constant movement, in a never-ending process of transformation. Societies, borders, nations, people, nature, the environment, fashion and the climate are subject to constant change. Consequently, the background needed to also be like that: not static, but changeable. This led to the idea of giving the flag a transparent background. Wherever the One World Flag flies, you can see through it to the surroundings, in other words, look through it at a changing world. This means that each place, with its own colours, its own environment and its own light, will be part of the flag. In the case of the photo it is the majestic mountain peaks soaring into the heavens.

This flag is the expression of a deep wish of mine: that we human beings focus more on what unites us, and that we might live together as one.”

More information: 1worldflag.com

Picture: © Thomas Mandl
Equipment: Leica M (Typ 240) with Summicron-M 50 mm f/2
© Miguel Olivera

Thomas Mandl

Thomas Mandl was born in Munich in 1990, and started taking analogue photographs when he was 16. After finishing high school he decided to study Geography and Politics. In parallel to his studies he began working in fashion photography, and as a film maker in Stockholm and Munich. Since 2017, his focus lies on his own reportages, and on activist, politically-motivated projects.

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