In a video made in his Oakland studio in connection with the Whitney Biennial 2019, Kota Ezawa talks about National Anthem, his two-minute animation which depicts NFL football players taking a knee during The Star-Spangled Banner to protest police violence against unarmed Black men.
In the video, Ezawa describes the feeling of connection and patriotism the protests evoked for him, as a naturalized U.S. citizen and the son of a Japanese immigrant to Germany. He describes the process of making the work, repurposing footage of NFL teams to use as the basis for meticulous, small-scale watercolor paintings, which he then turned into the frames of the animation. “I really like the word ‘translating’ to describe what I’m doing,” he says. “The game is to take something from the world of camera-recorded images and make it kind of a plausible animated image.”