Mother’s Anthem, 2023

Mother’s Anthem, 2023
2’H x 13’D x 18’W
Radios, wood platform, paint, recording of the American anthem in 30 languages

Mother’s Anthem broadcasts the American anthem in thirty languages commonly-spoken in the United States. Stemming from observations of American flags on houses as aggressive declarations of belonging, the piece explores how patriotism is weaponized and enforced.

The numerous existing translations of the American anthem in languages such as German (1861), Italian (1916), Polish (1929), Yiddish (1943), Spanish (1945), Navajo (2000), Samoan (2004), and Lakota (2010) suggest that this anthem has been a tool for many reasons, be they political, cultural, or nationalistic. In some cases, such as the Polish and Yiddish version, it offered American newcomers access to the song in their native language. In others, like the Spanish version, the US Government commissioned the translation after a period of military interventions in Latin America when it wanted to promote trade and spread US patriotism there.

Mother’s Anthem builds upon these histories to examine the relationship between patriotism and assimilation, suggesting assimilation as an enforced process without an ending, passed down through generations of selective erasure and recognition. The multilingual broadcast repeats itself every minute, eventually shedding its grandeur to become a ceaseless mantra.

Languages include: Bengali, Farsi, Spanish, Yiddish, Greek, Haitian-Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Lakota, Mandarin, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, French, Tagalog, Vietnamese, German, English, Italian, Portuguese, Navajo, Samoan, Armenian, Choctaw, Swahili, Polish, Arabic, Hmong, and Khmer. 
© Copyright Daniel Shieh. All Rights Reserved.