Tanya Bonakdar Gallery is very pleased to present when slaves love each other, it’s not love, an exhibition by Phil Collins. Comprised of a video installation, a large-scale slide projection and new photography, this will be the artist’s second solo exhibition at the gallery.
Collins’ work examines the act of image making itself, eliciting the complex and ambiguous relationship between the camera and its subjects. Basing his practice on a close engagement with place and community, Collins has addressed issues of ethnicity, gender, and political and linguistic identity through participatory events often organized in regions of social upheaval. In producing these projects, which have ranged from castings to a dance-a-thon to press conferences, Collins appropriates aspects of the documentary tradition and fuses them with elements of popular culture to create tender, affectionate, and often melancholic descriptions of humanity. The videos and photographs that result from these performative situations are not static portraits in the traditional sense; instead they are elements of a larger aesthetic and conceptual investigation—one in which the transferences between the artist, his subject and the viewer are consciously blurred.
In his new body of work, Collins expands on these themes by using the format of telenovela. Commissioned in 2008 by the Aspen Art Museum as part of the Jane and Marc Nathanson Dintiguished Artist in Residency Program to create a work that would engage a larger audience, Collins focused on the Latino and immigrant populations, a sizable percentage of which hail from northwestern Mexico. In Aspen itself this community figures mainly as a non-resident low-qualified work force, dispersed through a ring of satellite towns from which it commutes daily. Refuting the preconceived glamorous image of the city, Collins proceeded to make a work that would be culturally significant for this specific population.