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Bani Abidi

Born 1971, Karachi; lives and works in Karachi

Shan Pipe Band Learns The Star Spangled Banner
Double channel video installation
7 minutes, 31 seconds
Courtesy of the artist and Green Cardamom
Image courtesy of the artist and Green Cardamom


Video is the medium I most frequently work with. Shan Pipe Band Learns The Star Spangled Banner came from a sense of anxiety and frustration felt in Pakistan in 2003. The United States attacked Iraq that year, after having wreaked havoc in Afghanistan. I had just moved back to Lahore from Chicago, which had been my home for six years. Everyone was wary about Pakistan’s position in relation to this war, and there was a huge sense of foreboding about where Pakistan’s alliance with the United States would eventually lead us.

Shan Pipe Band is a recording of a music rehearsal. I commissioned a brass pipe band from the old quarter in Lahore to learn how to play The Star Spangled Banner. This gesture came from an existing tradition of performance based, conceptual video art. I had two or three hours of video footage, as I had sat through the rehearsal in which these guys learned the tune. Editing it down to seven minutes, while maintaining a sense of futility and stretched time, was where the real challenge lay.

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