Armida




This multimedia artwork looks at the Cronulla race riots in Sydney in December 2005: an event in which 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. Armida’s history has been central to more than ten different operas: the first, by Monteverdi, in 1627; the last, by British composer Judith Weir, in 2005.

The installation is comprised of historical images, hand written musical scores and opera costumes sketches from different versions of Armida, intervened with textual quotes from radio and television news shows broadcast around the Cronulla riots. With Hazeen collaboration, a self-declared “Muslim black-death metal group” from Sydney, I reinterpreted the aria Come, come unrelenting hate from Jean Baptiste Lully Armide version of 1686. As radio was a key component during the riots, I prepared a special program with different versions of Armida, from Handel in 1707 to Dvořák in 1904, broadcast by radio station Fine Music 102.5 on December 2018.

Regardless 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 installation delves into how asymmetries of race, gender and religion between the West and the Muslim world can be exaggerated and manipulated, but also subverted.



  




Installation views at C3 gallery, Melbourne, 2019. Photographies by Aaron Christopher Rees.
 

Unrelenting hate, 2019 (stil)
Digital video, sound, colour, 4min. 44 sec.
In collaboration with Hazeen (Safdar Ahmed and Can Yalcinkaya), Bernando Hernández, and Daz Chandler
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