In 1985 the great soprano Leontyne Price sang the title role in Verdi’s Aida as her farewell opera. After the ‘O patria mia’ aria, the audience breaks into a four-minute applause. Oh My Homeland is the third in a series of minimal single shot 16mm films. It’s a film about representation, art, and material exchange. It’s a film about endings. It’s a film about identity, love, power, patriotism and the transcendent potential of art through the viewing of a face receiving adoration. A minimal gesture akin to the practice every portrait painter or mother recognizes as ineffably powerful.
It is essentially a readymade and like my book Night Moves and my video Tatum's Ghost it continues to explore YouTube as a cultural and social archive.
Oh My Homeland, while being simply a shot of Ms. Price’s face as she receives the applause and before returning to the role, expands with the unaltered meditation on the shot. The transformational power of art for society and the maker alike; the implication of Ms. Price’s race and the context to which she dedicated her life; the staggering political implications of the Verdi aria (a mournful and complicated love letter to Aida’s homeland) in a time in which love of (my) country is hard to muster.
- Stephanie Barber