Remy/Grand Central Trains and Boats and Planes

1980 | 00:04:00 | United States | English | Color

Collection: Early Video Art, Single Titles

Tags: Consumer culture, Feminism, Video History

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In a piece commissioned by Remy Martin, Birnbaum adopts the language of commercial advertising, using the body, gestures, and glances of a heavily made-up woman to create a scene of glamour and romance—while slipping in a disparaging narrative that touches on the actual use and abuse of Remy Martin's product. Birnbaum sets up a typical commercial, then allows the fictive narrative to intrude, upsetting the advertised fantasy with a dose of unpleasant reality. Burt Bacarach's peppy song intones, "Trains and boats and planes took you away from me—I pray they bring you back," while the beautiful model stands at a railroad crossing, the bottle lifted to her lips, guzzling cognac.