I Need Somebody to Love Tonight


Neon sign, blinker set to 105 bpm in 4/4.
A small neon sign, pulsating in 105 beats per minute, the same slow rhythm as in a famous disco song that shares the English title with Conny Karlsson Lundgren’s work. In the sign, however, only the words ‘need’ and ‘love tonight’ remains. I Need Somebody to Love Tonight was first released by the African-American artist and songwriter Sylvester (1947—1988) in 1979. Once described as the “embodiment of disco”, he later became an activist during the early AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. The song itself was written by Patrick Cowley (1950—1982), a pioneer within electronic dance music and a close collaborator to Sylvester. An instrumental version of the track was featured in one of the many soundtracks Cowley produced for gay porn films during this time period. Cowley was an early casualty of the immunodeficiency syndrome which eventually took Sylvester’s life as well. 

The words of the neon sign are based on Karlsson Lundgren’s own handwriting from early 1990s, traced from notebooks and diaries. The work touches on a moment in queer history where urban club culture and freed sexuality clashed with pain, sorrow and death. The neon’s pulsating handwriting, slightly faster than a normal heart beat, adds an intimate and private layer to the history, of urgent longing and adolescence desire. 

Installation view (detail), HfKD, Holstebro , 2018. Photo: Conny Karlsson Lundgren
Installation view, Bonniers Konsthall, 2024. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger
Fragment from Karlsson Lundgren’s teenage diaries. The words ‘Need’ and ‘Love Tonight’ were traced for the neon sign.

Exhibitions: HfKD: Huset for Kunst og Design, Holsterbro DK. Sandviken Konsthall, Sandviken SE. Neue Galerie, Innsbruck AT. Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm SE.

 ©MMXIV Conny Karlsson Lundgren