June 11, 2007

Family Portrait By Google's Second Most Popular Phil Collins


A friend once wrote of artist Phil Collins' photographs, "his subjects speak volumes without giving too much away."

He likes to use his camera as a pretext or catalyst for some kind of social micro-phenomenon. He has filmed auditions a disco marathon contest in Ramallah in the West Bank; for the Istanbul Biennial, he invited people whose lives had been ruined by appearing on talk shows to tell their stories--in taped, hour-long interviews; he advertised for nude models, ages 18-88, to have their portraits taken in the penthouse suite of the nicest hotel in San Sebastian, Spain; for ""El Mundo no Escuchara", he shot a karaoke video version of The Smiths' classic album in Bogota.

So if you know even just a few of the specifics behind a particular project, you're fine. In the absence of such details, though, the guy is painfully Google-proof. When I saw this 2003 photo, titled cathy, torsten, jammy last night, I tried to figure out the circumstances behind it, but no luck. And anyone I could ask in the art world is either in Venice or Basel or somewhere in between at the moment, so the context will have to wait. Mean time, it's kind of an affecting, interesting portrait of a young family.

Phil Collins shows at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in NYC and was nominated for the Turner Prize last year. Image via Kerlin Gallery, Dublin [kerlin.ie]

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