Phil Collins: The World Won’t Listen
- Talitha Kotzé
- 30 April 2009
This is one of those rare exhibitions where a verbal articulation cannot do justice to the work on display. The three-part video installation ‘The World Won’t Listen’, filmed in Colombia, Turkey and Indonesia features fans of the band The Smiths performing karaoke versions of tracks from the 1987 album of the same name. The result is a poignant work of art which trumps all expectations. Profoundly moving at times, yet cringeworthy at others, this emotionally charged masterpiece precipitates a mixture of goose bumps, pathos and beguilement. The track which will have you in tears with its raw sentiment is a version of ‘Asleep’ performed by a man in Colombia – The Smiths’ seductive music acts as a precursor to his performance, and eventually to the novel representation of its documentation.
The exhibition also showcases a series of large-scale screenprinted letters that the young Morrissey wrote to the London music weeklies in the late 70s, praising the proto-punk band New York Dolls; a set of defaced Britney Spears posters which Collins photographed in the New York subway; a frightening neurotic laughing contest which was filmed in Helensburgh; and the Baghdad screentests which he recorded during the run up to the war in Iraq.
With the current popularity of reality TV – Scottish hopeful Susan Boyle’s performance on Britain’s Got Talent is the latest manifestation – the real accomplishment of the show lies in Collins’ ability to employ art to portray this lived reality and reflect on it at the same time.
Tramway, Glasgow, until Sun 31 May