RISING - Reverse Anthem

Kate Daw and Stewart Russell: In collaboration with Jonathon Welch AM, Amrita Hepi and Antuong Nguyen.

15 people stand side by side with arms over each others shoulders. They are of varied height and nationality, wear a range of varied clothing and are set against a white background.
Advance Australia Fair, upside down and back to front, a single renunciation of an impossible claim. 

Australia’s current national anthem is an anachronism, two verses lifted from a song written in 1878 which, even in those days, had an absurdly narrow focus. Minor alterations won’t make it right. 

Reverse Anthem is the newest iteration of an ongoing project—begun by artist Stewart Russell, and artist and educator Kate Daw in 2016—that reworks the national anthem, holding up a mirror to its hypocrisies and inconsistencies. 

Composer Jonathon Welch AM’s new treatment, Reverse Anthem, asked singers to learn the anthem back to front and upside down, in a collective raising of voices—including soprano Shauntai Batzke (Wiradjuri), with singers Eddie Muliaumaseali’i, Danielle Matthews, and Daniel Brinsmead—in support and encouragement for those on the outside. 

Following the tragic passing of Daw, Welch’s composition was embellished by new collaborators including dance maker Amrita Hepi (Bundjulung/Ngapuhi); and filmmaker Antuong Nguyen, who has applied the theme of reversal to filmic techniques.  

The collaboration between artists, composer, filmmaker, choreographer and choir takes the form of a single city-wide broadcast across a choir of screens—a provocation and lament to the impossible claims of unification made by ‘Advance Australia Fair’ in 2021. 

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