Jonathan Thomson

This recent work gathers time-honoured symbols of nationhood, intended to generate national ideology and pride, though often triggering prejudice or shocking moments of awe. These works displace and manipulate examples of flags, figureheads and anthems used by the 192 United Nations member states. They are disarticulated from their usual reception and ambiguated through digital processes.

In 'Growing and Shrinking Head', an anthem drones while the head of state is presented as a spectral form in motion, suggesting the ominous, omnipotent power associated with keepers of the faith and moral Ubermenschen. Its presence emerges almost imperceptibly, vast and all consuming but quickly withdraws, leaving the subject in the dark.

In 'Anthems, Push and Pull', an undulating quicksand terrain of words is composed from the UN state's national anthem lyrics. The size of the words relates to the frequency of use and reveals a universality within anthem language, and an obsession with territory and faith: land, free, people glory, live, nation, one, country, let, God....

'Unified', uses emblematic shapes and colour shards which slice together, expanding and contracting to the unified sound of a continuous cacophonic crescendo of state anthems. These unwavering signs of permanence are now fading, disintegrating historic relics, redeployed as flotsam and jetsam.


  • Growing and Shrinking Head (still)
  • Anthems, Push and Pull (still)
  • Unified