Maja Bajevic, Avanti popolo, 2002 – ongoing, sound installation, hi-fi system, sensors.
Exhibition view: Step by Step, P.S.1/MoMA, Long Island City, NY, USA (Curator Jimena Blazquez Abascal), 2004.
Photo documentation: Maja Bajevic


Avanti popolo

In every country there are songs that we know since always, songs that are part of the national identity, of the official representation of a country. Songs that call for action (or reaction), they call us to march, they bring people together. Depending on the historical moment, these songs can be seen as ‘positive’ or ‘negative,’ but they all say just one thing: There is ‘us’ and there is ‘them.’ And ‘we’ will fight ‘them.’ Often as the song continues it gets bloodier and bloodier.

I have asked people to sing a patriotic song from their country; only their voice is heard on the recording, a cappella. Some of the ‘singers’ are good, some are not so good, but each time the result is quite touching.

The sound equipment is visible on the floor. Each CD player is connected to a sensor; as a visitor passes by he/she starts the CDs, one by one, until all of them are playing together. The visitor walks through a kind of ‘minefield’ of songs. When 30 songs of this kind are played simultaneously they become illegible. What comes out is chaos.

Putting these songs together, side by side, shows that in the end, the only thing that comes out of them is aggression. Hearing them all together makes each one of them absurd. Does a feeling of togetherness always have to involve being against someone else?