Anthony Hawley — “X-Agent Destroy Monster Regimes”


For the past several years, I’ve been collaging text and visual matter from maps, political memos and other materials to create experimental scores. The 12-part work here, “X-Agent Destroy Monster Regimes” is composed entirely from remixed text and redactions from the first half of the Mueller Report. 

The piece was originally produced in conjunction with a performance created and presented during fall 2020 at Residency Unlimited in Brooklyn by my multidisciplinary duo The Afield, with violinist Rebecca Fischer. The work begins darkly with an invocation to the “dark web” and ends with a cry to protest “go in search of monster regimes to destroy.” As a whole, it loosely follows the narrative of Russian interference in US elections and social media from 2014-16 focusing on a fictionalized persona X-Agent (whose name comes from the tool Russians used to hack DNC computers). 

In general, I use the intersection of various technologies old and new to create work that examines the interplay between narrative, belief, power and the stories we manufacture. This began a while back with an interest in excavation as a means of uncovering what has been buried, erased, or willfully forgotten, and using the shards of things to make new modes and ethics of being. I like to dig into things—words, maps, histories—to unearth what’s been hidden or erased, to question the prevailing order. With these scores and others, I’ve been trying to create open fields for interpretation and imaginative use during performance. A space to forge new ways of collaborating, communicating and sharing space and geography.

The first performance of “X-Agent” occurred just before the 2020 presidential elections. From sunrise to sunset, we staged seven performances of the roughly 30-minute work for at-home audiences and socially-distanced persons in the space with us. Musically, the first performance engaged eclectic genres, moods, and modes, and featured several performers, video projections, live and pre-recorded sound, and sculptural interventions. 


Anthony Hawley is a New York City-based multidisciplinary artist whose hybrid practice spans writing, video, drawing, installation, sound, and performance. He has exhibited nationally and internationally with notable projects presented by Lubov Gallery (NY) (2023), the Guggenheim Museum’s Works & Process series (NY) (2020); The Salina Art Center (KS) (2018); Spazju Kreattiv (Malta) (2016); and Vox Populi Gallery (PA) (2014). In 2016, CounterCurrent, The Menil Collection, and Aurora Picture Show in Houston collaborated to produce his five-day multimedia performance work “Fault Diagnosis,” engaging audiences across the city with live performance, projections, a 1985 Nissan Pulsar NX turned micro-cinema, and audio narratives via a GPS-triggered app. He is a MacDowell fellow (2023, 2012), and has also been awarded residencies at VCCA, the Hermitage Artist Retreat, Art Farm, and Avaloch Farm Music Institute among others. Hawley is the author of two full-length collections of poetry, The Concerto Form (2004) and Forget Reading (2008) both from Shearsman Books, as well as several chapbooks from Counterpath Press, Ugly Duckling, and the artist book dear donald... (NoRoutine Books, 2021). His poems have been published widely, including in The Bennington Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Futurefeed, The New Republic, Volt, and his essays on art and film appear in Artforum, Art in America, BOMB, Frieze, Hyperallergic, MUBI Notebook, and others. With violinist/vocalist Rebecca Fischer, he makes up the duo The Afield, which recently performed at The Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center (2022) and Residency Unlimited in Brooklyn (2020). He teaches in the MFA Studio Art program at Hunter College.