In the coming days of Feb. 13 through Feb. 17, the thought-provoking and moving immersive art installation, “Deconstructed Anthems: Massachusetts” will be debuted at the Cyclorama in the Boston Center for Arts. “Deconstructed Anthems” is a series of exhibitions created by artist, professor and Director of the Poetic Justice Group at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab Ekene Ijeoma. Ijeoma, whose background is in technology and interaction design, develops multimedia artwork designed to expose the inequities that riddle the United States and challenge his audience to change them. Through “Deconstructed Anthems,” Ijeoma depicts the immense scale of mass incarceration, as well as the gross racial disparities ingrained in the U.S. carceral system. Each site-specific iteration of “Deconstructed Anthems” uses data from the U.S. Department of Justice, combined with conceptual, multimedia art, to give voice to the over 1.5 million (disproportionately Black) individuals incarcerated in the U.S. since 1925. Ijeoma’s exhibit highlights the hypocrisy of the U.S. being the “land of the free” while having such high incarceration rates by centering the installation around the classic “Star Spangled Banner.” The exhibit combines an algorithmic composition programmed by Ijeoma and numerous musicians who methodically omit notes while playing “Star Spangled Banner” to reflect the escalation in national incarceration rates from 1925 to the present. Ijeoma achieves this by using a custom piano “retrofitted with hardware and software programmed to hold down keys at the same rates in the composition as a pianist is playing it.”

“Deconstructing Anthems: Massachusetts” will be a solo exhibit at the Cyclorama in which Ijeoma’s custom piano, as well as hundreds of drawings of compositions generated from the software, will be on display from Feb. 13 through Feb. 17, 2024. This exhibit is completely free to the public. There will be public performances of the installation each evening from 7-8 p.m. featuring renowned musicians such as James Fancies (piano), Jeremy Dutton (drums), William Mabuza (bass) and Angel Bat Dawid. In bringing “Deconstructing Anthems: Massachusetts” to the greater Boston area for free, Ekene Ijeoma is challenging audiences to confront the harsh realities of mass incarceration in the United States. Be sure to catch this installation at the Cyclorama while it is in Boston!