Med popkultur i kroppen - Benny Nemerofsky Ramsays videoverk från tidigt 2000-tal

Patrik Steorn


Artists who use experiences from a life outside the heterosexual norm as inspiration have attracted increasingly more attention in contemporary art during the last decade. The author suggests that one feature they have in common is the strategy to make themselves into artistic material, by means not only of their own bodies but also of the self-perceptions. They also use explicit references to the impact of pop-culture in cultural stagings of normative and non-normative notions of identities, feelings and desires. Canadian video and performance artist Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay combines both these features in his production. Works from the earlier part of the 2000s as well as interviews with the artist from mainstream media, form the primary base of this article that aims to analyze how emotions and body are used as artistic material in the work of an artist who is outside the heterosexual norm, but right in the mainstream of popular culture. In the light of theories on contemporary consumer culture, the role of the subject and of the body in contemporary art as well as popular culture as arena for self-fashioning activities, particularly two works are analyzed: I am a Boy Band (2002), and Lyric (2004). The self-perception of a gay man is used as artistic material in the work of Nemerofsky Ramsay. His childhood activities of singing in a choir and taking ballet classes are linked together with his artist’s role in his adult work. With references to traditions of “camp” and lesbian and gay performance art he uses his own body in the form of flamboyant gestures and emotional facial expressions, to stage how queer appropriating and incorporation of the surrounding culture is filled with both passion and disgust and also how these practices can point to positionalities beyond the dichotomy of depth and surface.

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