Rodrigo Azaola

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Single-channel video installation (4’16’’), inkjet prints, mp3 player and headphones. 

This multimedia artwork looks at the Cronulla race riots in Sydney in December 2005: an event in which the mass media  —particularly radio talk shows— propelled and ultimately ignited confrontations. It also looks at the opera Armida, a tale that first appeared in the Crusade epic narration Jerusalem Delivered published in 1581. Armida is a Syrian warrior sorceress who falls in love with Rinaldo, a European knight conflicted by her beauty, mystery, and sensuousness. Her character is a misleading allegory of the Muslim world: irrational, exotic, and ridden with passion.  

The installation is comprised of 17th century musical scores and opera costume sketches from the opera Armida, intervened with textual quotes from news radio broadcasts around the Cronulla riots. Also, I prepared a radio show with different versions of Armida from 1707 to 1904, broadcast by Fine Music Sydney in December 2018; and a video work made in collaboration with Hazeen, a self-declared “Muslim black-death metal group” from Western Sydney, in which the aria Come, come unrelenting hate from Jean Baptiste Lully Armide version of 1686 was reinterpreted.

Despite the fact that both Armida and Armida are four hundred years apart from each other, there is a strikingly similar message: “The siege is real”, “They have come to change our ways”, “How hateful can it be”. 

This work was exhibited at C3 Contemporary, Melbourne (2019).

Installation views. C3 gallery, Melbourne. Photographies by Aaron Christopher Rees.