Christopher Mayo



2018 | 8'  

With Tal Rosner

Commissioned by Nuit Blanche Toronto


Lament is a sound and video installation that takes its inspiration from a 1969 poem of the same name by renowned Toronto artist bpNichol. Created collaboratively by video artist Tal Rosner and composer Christopher Mayo, the work is an homage to Nichol that incorporates the techniques of repetition and abstraction which are at the heart of the poet's intent, both in style of writing and in performance.

The installation also celebrates the work of Nichol's fellow poet d.a. levy to whom the original poem was dedicated. levy was charged with distributing obscenity relating to his poetry in his home city of Cleveland and died from suicide in 1968.

With an integration of music, spoken word, images, animations, and video, Lament highlights the repeated text "you are city hall, my people," and investigates the inherent themes of the poem: civic politics and the responsibility of each citizen for the actions of their government. The project realizes Nichol's original ambition for the work, which was to deliver this poem over the loudspeaker system at Toronto City Hall.

This project was created with the support of the Estate of bpNichol with thanks to the Estates of Viljo Revell, Eric Arthur, and d.a. levy, and the Toronto Public Library. The voices of Abdullah Almualem, John J. Boyle III, Robert Brooks, Scott Curtis, Suzanne DeGaetano, Jan Devereaux, William Easterling, David Hartt, Leslie A. Jones, Ed Kovacic, Kay Laughlin, Robert P. Madison, Steve Minter, Susanna Niermann O'Neil, Mary Rose Oakar, Georgia Pappas, Abdul Qahar, Chris Ronayne, Mary Webb Scibana, Linwood Smith and Paul Volpe are heard courtesy of The Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection at Cleveland State University.
Format: 2 HD video channels, 8 audio channels 8 min.
Composer: Christopher Mayo
Video Artist: Tal Rosner
Commissioned by Nuit Blanche Toronto, 2018.
Curated by Karen Alexander
Producer: Jeanne Holmes

Photos: Andrew Williamson, Priam Thomas