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National Identity

The National Identity Project: Pakistan

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National anthems are meant for monumental surroundings: diplomatic visits, military parades and international sporting events. But what happens when an ordinary citizen is displaced from these environments and asked to sing their own national anthem without additional stimuli or fanfare? The effects of such an isolating experience is carefully and sensitively catalogued on film in The National Identity Project. Originally screened at the Brooklyn Museum, this film penetrates layers of self-reflexive contexts of nationalism, freedom of expression and personal pride. Filming against a controlled, neutral backdrop, subjects are exposed to an unusual psychological channel; one in which singing a stripped-down national anthem of their country of origin (not necessarily their current domicile) forces a reconsideration of their own social, political and cultural values as well as those of a larger audience. The solo acapella performances of songs which instill emotions ranging from peaceful passion to extremist rage or from collective trauma to fond nostalgia fundamentally changes the usage, reception and execution of such a wide-reaching creative gesture as a pledge or outcry of allegiance.