Anita Tijoux’s Return is the Menacing Anthem of Defiance that the World Needs Right Now20 March, 2020
Ana Tijoux dons a gas mask in her latest video, accompanied by an entourage equipped with boiler suits, goggles, and balaclavas. In the current global state of affairs, you could be forgiven for thinking this is an apocalyptic statement on the coronavirus epidemic — but it’s not quite that.
The song is called “Antifa Dance” — a frantic, danceable applaud to those who stand against fascism (antifa = anti-fascism, right?). It comes at a time when Tijoux’s native Chile has been locked in a social uprising against a right-wing elite political class.
Chile’s unrest has seen strong repression from the state — impacts from tear gas canisters have left people blinded, in comatose, or killed. Santiago’s downtown district hasn’t stopped reeking of teargas for five months straight, testifying to the intoxicating measures the Chilean police force is putting upon the protesters.
Here Tijoux evokes the movement of her country and integrates it into the aesthetic of her video. Her dancers are hooded, masked, disguised: they wear protective gear. This feels like a conceptual exploration of Armageddon, but these are the real measures needed if you want to protest in modern-day Chile.
The song is not only Chilean in style, but it is also in speech. Tijoux deliberately rhymes Chilean accents in her chorus “este sistema se cae cae / si tu no comprai” — (the system will fall / if you don’t buy), a nod to the movement’s fierce criticism of neoliberalism.
Fellow Chilean musician Alex Antwander also stars in the video — he’s an artist who has similarly coupled critical, politically-charged lyrics with danceable beats.
Since the 90s, Tijoux has highlighted injustices in Chile. From spitting “escuchan fascistas inmorales somos todo iguales” in 1999’s “El Paro”, to soundtracking the 2011 Chilean protests over education in “Shock”, and addressing feminist and indigenous rights in 2014’s “Antipatriarca” and “Somos Sur” respectively. It’s tempting to say Tijoux is a visionary, but she’s not. She has always spoken up for minority rights and has paved a way for a greater understanding of their respective issues. It’s not that she’s ahead of a majority — it’s that the majority are slow to catch on.
In October 2019, Chile woke up to what Tijoux had been addressing in her music for decades — the movement has called itself Chile Desperto (Chile Woke Up). With this in mind, it’s no wonder why Tijoux has found a reason to dance. “Facing authoritarianism, unrelenting hatred for the other, we again return to ‘Art,’ with all its force,” says Tijoux about the music she has been working on. “Art that is charged with music and colour. Art that responds in dance, an organized movement of beautiful rebellion. This is why we decided to make a danceable album. It is our profound belief that from pain, the purest act of love and resistance is born. Antifa Dance.”
“Antifa Dance” will feature on Ana Tijoux’s next album, her first for six years, which will be released later in 2020.
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