‘I’m Your Man (A Portrait of Leonard Cohen),’ 2017
Shot at Phi Centre, Montreal, Canada, May-June 2017
19-Channel Installation: 19 Hard Drives
Duration: 40 minutes, 43 seconds
Commissioned by the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal
‘I’m Your Man (A Portrait of Leonard Cohen),’ a multi-channel video installation by Candice Breitz, brings together a community of ardent Leonard Cohen fans—each of whom has cherished Cohen’s music for over half a century—to pay posthumous tribute to the late legend. Each of the eighteen individuals featured was offered the opportunity to perform and record his own version of Cohen’s magnificent comeback album, ‘I’m Your Man’ (1988), in a professional recording studio in old Montreal. At Breitz’s invitation, the album’s backing vocals have been sumptuously re-interpreted by the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue Choir, an all-male choir representing the Westmount congregation that Cohen belonged to all his life.
The work expands Breitz’s ongoing anthropology of the fan. Earlier works in this series have included ‘Legend (A Portrait of Bob Marley),’ shot in Jamaica in 2005, and ‘Working Class Hero (A Portrait of John Lennon),’ shot in Newcastle in 2006 (footage from both works can be viewed via separate links on this Vimeo page). Although these multi-channel portraits mimic the flow and duration of the original albums that they take as their templates, they specifically exclude the auratic voices and familiar musical arrangements of the original albums, such that the musical icon ultimately remains present only through the a cappella voices of a devout amateur collective.
Commissioned by the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal to be debuted in ‘Leonard Cohen: Une brèche en toute chose / A Crack in Everything’ in November 2017, Breitz's ‘I’m Your Man’ is a tender farewell to a recently lost poet and musician, as well as a poignant celebration of late masculinity.
Director: Candice Breitz / Commissioner: Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal / Producers: Victor Shiffman + John Zeppetelli / Location: Phi Centre, Montréal, Canada: May-June, 2017 / Project Management: Sophie Cook, Alex Fahl, Gabrielle Gagnon-Fréchet / Casting: Candice Breitz + Sophie Cook / Assistant Director: Sophie Cook / Director of Photography: Yann-Manuel Hernandez / Sound: Max Schneider / Production Assistants: Gaby Girard, Dustyn Lucas, Aly Marguerite Neumann, Ellen Payne Smith, Nasuna Stuart-Ulin, Sarah Tue-Fee / Post Production: Alex Fahl / Still Photography: Edwin Isford / Cast: Lew Auerbach, Sheldon Azimov, Thomas L. Bohan, Don Cummer, Jean-Pierre Ducharme, Shaun Fawcett (in memory of Ellen C. Fawcett), Marc Gian, Jerry Golland, Fergus Keyes, Richard Lahmy, Peter Lau, Victor Neufeld, Claude Ouellet, Philippe, Denis S.J. Shackel, Paul G. Shaw, Edward Lyon Singer, Philip J. Taylor / Congregation Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue Choir: Roï Azoulay (Music Director). Cantor Gideon Y. Zelermyer (Soloist). Conor O’Neil (Arranger). Choristers: David Buzaglo, Victor Chisholm, Gabriel Frank, Joshua Goldman, Isak Goldschneider, Conor O’Neil, David Packer, Lorne Shapiro, Jake Smith. Recorded by Howard Bilerman at Hotel2Tango / Special Thanks: Leonard Cohen, Robert Kory, Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal (especially Sophie Cook, Denis Labelle, Geneviève Senécal, Victor Shiffman, Carl Solari + John Zeppetelli), Alex Fahl, June + Louis Breitz, CBC (Kaveh Nabatian + Stefan Schneider), Valentina De Guglielmo, Jordan Eady, Grumpy’s Bar, Freda Guttman, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Old Time Honey, Phi Centre (Phoebe Greenberg, Renelle Desjardins, Marc-André Nadeau, Aude Renaud-Lorrain).
TEXT SOURCE: Press Release, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne