Anthem (2020) is a video and sound work which appropriates the Australian National Anthem and flag to produce motifs evocative of the devolving chaos and rising authoritarianism of Australia’s politics. The work is produced in response to the provocations ‘Industrial Actions’ and ‘Unprecedented Times’, asserting the importance of critical reflection and political resistance in the current moment.
Amy Sargeant, Anthem, 2020, 16:9 HD video, stereo audio, 00:13:23
Audio: Amy Sargeant
Visual: Amy Sargeant in collaboration with FuzzWah
In the time of COVID-19, the obstinate failure of our leaders to communicate clearly has triggered confusion, complacency and violence toward frontline workers. With a reactionary zeal, our leaders have blamed these outcomes on the public. Michael Bradley writes that “the roots of that reflex lie much deeper; they can be seen in every step…taken down the path of authoritarianism since September 11, 2001. In this moment of deep crisis, it is flourishing”(2020)¹. In response, Anthem (2020) deploys the Situationist method of détournement, by which components of visual culture are recycled to produce new arrangements as a weapon of class struggle. Détournement is applied in this work through the appropriation of sonic and visual motifs from Australia’s political spectacle, to subvert nationalist motifs and challenge the dysfunctional spectacle.
The visual component of Anthem (2020) is produced exclusively with analogue video augmentation tools, in collaboration with Brisbane-based video artist FuzzWah. This work is to be extended in future via a live multimedia performance at the IMA.
¹Bradley, M. (2020). Welcome to a brave new world, where citizens have to prove their innocence.
Amy Sargeant is a Meanjin (Brisbane) based activist, visual artist and musician. Through installations of sculpture, audio and video Amy’s work responds to her disillusionment with the dysfunctions of the Australian political establishment by reframing the elements of political spectacle. Amy deploys the Situationist method of détournement to de-stabilise points of symbolic reference appropriated from Australian politics.
Amy Sargeant, Anthem (video still), 2020, 16:9 HD video, stereo audio, 00:13:23