Since the late 1990s, Phil Collins’ diverse practice has addressed the act of image-making, examining how we participate in and understand culture through the camera’s lens. Characteristic of the artist’s approach is a close engagement with place and communities, which over the years have included disco-dancing Palestinians, fans of The Smiths across three continents, Kosovan-Albanian refugees, the youth of Baghdad, anti-fascist skinheads in Malaysia, and teachers of Marxism-Leninism from the former German Democratic Republic. Rather than static portraits, the installations, videos and photographs resulting from these encounters articulate the nuances of relations embedded in the aesthetic regimes and economies that define everyday existence, from news and politics to entertainment and shopping. Throughout, Collins’ work upholds his commitment to myriad forms of experience across the social spectrum, and an interest in the contradictory impulses of intimacy and desire within the public sphere.
Born in 1970, Collins grew up in the North of England. He studied at the University of Manchester, from which he graduated in 1994 (BA English Literature and BA Drama), and University of Ulster in Belfast, from which he graduated in 1999 (MA Fine Art). During this time he worked different jobs, including a cloakroom boy and pint-puller at the Hacienda nightclub, a bingo caller, a lecturer in performance and film theory, a high-street photo lab assistant, and a secretary at the Big Issue magazine for the homeless. Throughout the second half of the 1990s he was a member of London-based performance group Max Factory whose live art projects reached all corners of the UK and beyond.
Collins received Paul Hamlyn Award for Visual Arts in 2001, and was nominated for Artes Mundi Prize in 2012 and Turner Prize in 2006. He has completed a number of international residencies, including DAAD Berliner Künstlerprogramm in Berlin, Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jerusalem, and PS1 Contemporary Art Center in New York. marxism today (prologue), Collins’ 2010 film, was awarded 3sat-Förderpreis at the 57th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen. His recent project This Unfortunate Thing Between Us from 2011 was broadcast live on German national television.
Solo exhibitions of Collins’ work have been presented in venues around the world, including Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2016); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL (2016); Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Cambridge, MA (2016); Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow (2015); Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin (2014); Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2013); British Film Institute, London (2011); Tramway, Glasgow (2009); Aspen Art Museum, Colorado (2008); Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh and National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (all 2007); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Franisco and Tate Britain, London (both 2006); and Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH (2005).
Collins' work has also been included in numerous group exhibitions at institutions such as Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; New Museum, New York; Beirut Art Center, Bayrut; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Hayward Gallery, London; and Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna.
His works are represented in the collections of Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York; Tate Gallery, London; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, among others.
Collins currently lives in Berlin and Cologne, where he is Professor of Video Art at the Academy of Media Arts.