This piece was a part of the exhibition Race and Revolution: Home/Land at the Lewis Latimer House, curated by Katie Fuller, open from February 8 until March when the museum was forced to close due to COVID-19. The piece is still accessible, as it was during the show, by dialing 929-277-1848. 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 hiccups, 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, 2008-2020.