Now I spend my days at home, paralysed by thoughts of you and of our delicious, troubled, long-ago love. I try to read, to water the neglected garden, to clean up the mess from last week's dinner. But then I remember a line from that song — our song — and everything else falls away. The song captures every word I have ever wanted to say to you. The next song, too. Then another. I know that if I open my mouth I'll begin to sing and never be able to stop.
Nemer performs a sung narrative composed of lyrics sampled from one thousand love songs. Familiar lyrics were isolated, sampled, and arranged into a series of thirty-four hybrid thematic songs, sung as a classical song cycle in an epic solo performance.
The focus is on commonly heard lyrics that reproduce banal, hegemonic concepts of love and relationships: I will love you forever and I would die without you, for example. The video engages on an ethno-musicological level while also revealing a physicality that reflects exhaustion from the act of marathon singing, the act of consuming mass quantities of pop music, and the act of loving.
Lyric is designed for looped installation divided among five monitors, and its unconventional narrative structure allows viewers to join or leave the story at any time.
The installation is accompanied by Libretto, an editioned artist booklet designed by Barr Gilmore, which provides the complete song texts of Lyric. Libretto can be purchased from the Plug In ICA shop.
Lyric premiered at the exhibition Neverending Song of Love at Plug In ICA, Canada, in 2004. Critical writing includes, “Heartbreaker: The Video Art of Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay” by Robert Enright in BorderCrossings magazine, 2004; “Lost and Found: Queerying the Archive,” by Jane Rowley and Louise Woulthers, 2009; and “Queering Plunder,” by Deirdre Logue, 2006.
The initial research towards producing Lyric took place during an artist residency at Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen in 2003, where Nemerofsky filmed a short test video entitled I Call Your Name.