PHIL COLLINS: Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery is very pleased to present an exhibition of major new work by Phil Collins. Incorporating television, film, music and photography, the artist will realize three exceptional large-scale installations for his third solo presentation at the gallery.
Since the late 1990s, Collins’ diverse practice has addressed the act of image-making itself, reflecting on the status of the individual and the collective in today’s media-dominated society. 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, the youth of Baghdad, and teachers of Marxism-Leninism in the former German Democratic Republic. The projects are often initiated through public announcements and structured as situations predicated on high emotional stakes. Rather than static portraits, the works resulting from these encounters articulate the nuances of relations embedded in the aesthetic regimes and economies that define our 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 furthers his interest in the contradictory impulses of intimacy and desire within the public sphere.
In the installation This Unfortunate Thing Between Us, Collins probes the overlap and disconnection between reality and representation. Based on his 2011 project TUTBU.TV, an alternative shopping channel which was performed in a Berlin theatre and broadcast live on German national television over two nights, This Unfortunate Thing Between Us offered viewers the chance to buy an experience and enact it live on stage the following evening. Exploiting the logic and presentation of popular teleshopping programs, TUTBU.TV was hosted by a cast of actors, porn workers and musicians, with pitches and live phone-ins, telephone operators managing calls from the public, and a soundtrack by the in-house band featuring Welsh musician Gruff Rhys and North Wales surf band Y Niwl. Two complete subtitled episodes of the original event are now presented in second-hand British caravans, which for Collins epitomize both the optimism and melancholy of the consumer age, their promise of mobility and freedom forestalled by the tedium and misery of a typical family holiday. Weaving together exhibitionism and voyeurism, authenticity and fiction, This Unfortunate Thing Between Us reassembles the language of reality television in a new bastardized grammar in order to describe the complex love affair between the camera and its subjects, with all its anxieties and expectations.