Moses Sumney debuted his stunning two-part record Grae last month, and now he returns to make a statement with another project. Collaborating with the fashion designer Thom Browne for his Spring 2021 collection preview, Sumney directed a visual where he literally puts himself on a pedestal. Filmed in black-and-white, Sumney invokes monumental statues through a variety of stoic poses.
For the video’s accompanying music, Sumney gave his own rendition of the “Olympic Hymn,” also known as the “Olympic Anthem,” which is recorded each Olympic Games cycle by the hosting country. The hymn is typically performed by a chorus and was composed in the late 1800s by Spyridon Samaras. Sumney reimaged the hymn as a soulful ballad and translated the Greek lyrics into English, dubbing it “Monumental.”
In an interview with Vogue about the project, Sumney said the goal of the video is to call attention to the ways in which America idolizes known racist political leaders throughout history by dedicating large-scale monuments and statues:
“What does it mean to pose statuesque on top of a marble podium, at a time when statues across the world — long-standing symbols of white supremacy — are literally being toppled? What does it mean to appropriate the Greco-Roman statue, a long-standing placeholder of white male virility and beauty, and replace it with my black body? A body that has historically been disregarded as far less beautiful and in more recent years, objectified? What does it mean to objectify myself? That’s a question, not an answer, but I hope it’s a question that people ask themselves. I think it is a really beautiful piece and it’s challenging in a way I like a piece to be challenging, which is with beauty and awe. I think Thom really shares that. I think that seeing that shiny Black body on that podium is saying something. It’s not really up to me as the artist to say what it’s saying, but at least people catch the question.”
Watch Sumney’s “Monumental” video above.
Grae is out now via Dead Oceans. Get it here.