Can­dice Breitz
I’m Your Man (A Por­trait of Leonard Cohen)

30th January – 3rd March 2018
Anna Schwartz Gallery

I’m Your Man (A Por­trait of Leonard Cohen), 2017 by acclaimed South African artist Can­dice Bre­itz is her first exhi­bi­tion at Anna Schwartz Gallery Mel­bourne and fol­lows Work­ing Class Hero (A Por­trait of John Lennon), 2006, which was pre­sent­ed in Syd­ney, 2013.

This mul­ti-chan­nel video instal­la­tion 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 Mon­tréal. 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. Orig­i­nal­ly com­mis­sioned by the Musée d’art con­tem­po­rain de Mon­tréal, 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.

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; King (A Por­trait of Michael Jack­son) and Queen (A Por­trait of Madon­na), shot respec­tive­ly in Berlin and Milan dur­ing 2005; and Work­ing Class Hero (A Por­trait of John Lennon), shot in New­cas­tle in 2006. 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.

Can­dice Bre­itz (born in Johan­nes­burg, 1972) is a Berlin-based artist whose mov­ing image instal­la­tions have been shown inter­na­tion­al­ly. Through­out her career, she has explored the dynam­ics by means of which an indi­vid­ual becomes him or her­self in rela­tion to a larg­er com­mu­ni­ty, be that the imme­di­ate com­mu­ni­ty that one encoun­ters in fam­i­ly, or the real and imag­ined com­mu­ni­ties that are shaped not only by ques­tions of nation­al belong­ing, race, gen­der and reli­gion, but also by the increas­ing­ly unde­ni­able influ­ence of main­stream media such as tele­vi­sion, cin­e­ma and oth­er pop­u­lar cul­ture. Most recent­ly, Breitz’s work has focused on the con­di­tions under which empa­thy is pro­duced, reflect­ing on a media-sat­u­rat­ed glob­al cul­ture in which strong iden­ti­fi­ca­tion with fic­tion­al char­ac­ters and celebri­ty fig­ures runs par­al­lel to wide­spread indif­fer­ence to the plight of those fac­ing real world adversity.

Bre­itz rep­re­sent­ed South Africa at the 57th Venice Bien­nale (2017). Breitz’s Venice Bien­nale piece, Love Sto­ry, 2016 was com­mis­sioned by the Nation­al Gallery of Vic­to­ria in part­ner­ship with Out­set Ger­many and will be exhib­it­ed as Wil­son Must Go at the NGV Tri­en­ni­al (15 Decem­ber 201715 April 2018). In the past, Bre­itz has par­tic­i­pat­ed in bien­nales in Johan­nes­burg (1997), Sao Paulo (1998), Istan­bul (1999), Taipei (2000), Kwangju (2000), Tirana (2001), Venice (2005), New Orleans (2008), Gote­borg (2003 + 2009), Sin­ga­pore (2011) and Dakar (2014). Her work has been fea­tured at the Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val (New Fron­tier, 2009) and the Toron­to Inter­na­tion­al Film Fes­ti­val (David Cro­nen­berg: Trans­for­ma­tion, 2013).

Works by Bre­itz have been acquired by muse­ums includ­ing the Muse­um of Mod­ern Art and the Solomon R. Guggen­heim Muse­um (both in New York), Louisiana Muse­um of Mod­ern Art (Hum­le­bæk), San Fran­cis­co Muse­um of Mod­ern Art, the Nation­al Gallery of Cana­da (Ottawa), Städtis­che Galerie im Lenbach­haus (Munich), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toron­to), FNAC / Fonds nation­al d’art con­tem­po­rain (France), Castel­lo di Riv­o­li (Turin), Ham­burg­er Kun­sthalle (Ham­burg), M+ / Muse­um of Visu­al Cul­ture (Hong Kong), Nation­al Gallery of Vic­to­ria (Mel­bourne), Mil­wau­kee Art Muse­um, Kun­st­mu­se­um St. Gallen, MUDAM / Musée d’Art Mod­erne Grand-Duc Jean (Lux­em­bourg), MUSAC / Museo de Arte Con­tem­porá­neo de Castil­la y León (León, Spain), Kun­st­mu­se­um Licht­en­stein (Vaduz), MONA / Muse­um of Old and New Art (Tas­ma­nia), QAG­GOMA / Queens­land Art Gallery (Bris­bane), Muse­um of Fine Arts (Boston) and MAXXI / Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI sec­o­lo (Rome).


Can­dice Breitz

I’m Your Man (A Por­trait of Leonard Cohen), 2017