This piece is a part of the exhibition Race and Revolution: Home/Land at the Lewis Latimer House, curated by Katie Fuller, on view from February 8 - June 14, 2020. To access this piece, dial 929-277-1848 on any phone. Once the recording begins, please listen for a moment before reading further.
For this piece, I disassemble the triumphant presumptions of the Star-Spangled Banner into a constellation of glitches and hic-ups, disrupting the homogeneity that nationalism tends to encourage. By using visitors’ cell phones as a part of the work, I acknowledge Lewis Latimer’s involvement with the patenting of Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone, an American invention. The phone becomes a diagnostic tool—one where visitors are confronted with a broken national anthem—suggesting that the ideals of freedom and liberty celebrated in the lyrics have never truly existed for all.
All images copyright Peter J Hoffmeister, 2008-2019.