Phil Collins: the world won't listen

This fall the Dallas Museum of Art premieres British artist Phil Collins’s completed three-part video project “the world won’t listen.”

Filmed in Colombia, Turkey, and Indonesia, the trilogy features fans of the influential British indie-rock band The Smiths singing karaoke tracks from their 1987 hit album “The World Won’t Listen.” The Dallas exhibition, which will also include letters that Morrissey, the band’s iconic lead singer, wrote as a teenager to London music weeklies, marks the first-ever public presentation of the completed trilogy.

On view from November 9, 2007, through March 30, 2008, Phil Collins: the world won’t listen is curated by Suzanne Weaver, the Museum’s Nancy and Tim Hanley Associate Curator of Contemporary Art. The exhibition will debut as an expanded presentation of Concentrations, a special DMA series of project-based solo exhibitions by international emerging artists.

“We are extremely pleased to present Phil Collins’s completed video trilogy for its first public viewing,” said John R. Lane, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. “This exhibition is a testament to how in the past 10 years Suzanne Weaver has pushed our Concentrations series to a new level of ambition and experimentation, where emerging artistic talents are offered the opportunity to have their first major museum presentation or, as in Collins’s video installation, to have a large-scale premiere of their newest work.”

A 2006 finalist for the Tate Museum’s Turner Prize, Collins uses photography and video to capture people in places marked by political conflict, turmoil and change—such as Belgrade, San Sebastian, Baghdad, and Ramallah—often interweaving pop and youth culture in his work. He first began work on “the world won’t listen” in 2004, shooting the first chapter of the monumental video trilogy in Bogotá, Colombia. The second part took place in Istanbul, Turkey, and was included in the 9th International Istanbul Biennial. The third, which will be on view for the first time in Dallas, was filmed in Jakarta, Indonesia.

For each part, Collins spent more than two months researching the project, interviewing, building stages and filming. Collins appeared on the radio, visited dance clubs and posted flyers throughout the cities inviting “the shy, dissatisfied, the shower superstar, and anyone who has wanted to be someone else for a night” to come sing karaoke in front of his video camera. The resulting video captures these Smiths fans, an almost cult-like worldwide phenomenon, as they sing their favorite angst-ridden, mournful lyrics by the band’s charismatic singer Morrissey.

“In this poignant work, Collins insightfully combines art, pop music, and popular culture to create a tender, heartbreaking and at times funny portrait of humanity,” said Weaver. “Watching these Smiths fans—an intensely committed group—perform and sing their favorite lyrics in a language not their own is a moving reminder of our own desires and struggles for individual expression. It also expands the possibilities of art in our rapidly changing global age.”

About his work, Collins has said, “A camera brings interested parties together. It attracts and repels according to circumstance or whim. A camera makes me interested in you and you maybe interested in me. In this sense, it’s all about love. And exploitation. You could say that [this work] is driven by an emotional relationship with the subjects, rather than the rational or sensational standards of journalism, which also inhabit these territories.”

Born in 1970 in Runcorn, England, Phil Collins studied at the University of Manchester and the University of Ulster, School of Art & Design, Belfast. He currently resides in Glasgow, Scotland. Collins’s work has been the focus of solo exhibitions at the Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh; the San Francisco Museum of Art (SFMOMA); Tate Britain; Ausstellungshalle zeitgenössische Kunst, Münster; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade; the Temple Gallery, Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia; Milton Keynes Gallery; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio; Espacio La Rebecca, Bogotá; and the Wrong Gallery, New York. He received a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award in 2001 and the Absolut Prize in 2000. In 2006, Collins was shortlisted for the Turner Prize, a contemporary art award widely recognized as one of the most important and prestigious awards for the visual arts in Europe.

As Turner Prize Judge Andrew Renton said, “To call Phil Collins a prankster would be to underestimate the seriousness of his work. His work is clearly political and connected to social engagement.” The DMA’s Weaver adds, “From a photo shoot of strangers in a luxury hotel room, to a dance marathon, to karaoke, to a press conference, Collins’s work explores culture’s mediating power and how it can help both to fulfill and to limit individual expression.”

Exhibition Catalogue
The accompanying 128-page illustrated exhibition catalogue will offer a cross-disciplinary, critical look at Collins’s work, furthering scholarship in the fields of popular music, cultural studies and art history. It will include essays by British music critic Simon Reynolds on The Smiths’ and Morrissey’s seductive power; Bruce Hainley, Associate Director of Graduate Studies in Criticism and Theory at Art Center College of Design, on the political implications of “the world won’t listen”; Liz Kotz, Assistant Professor in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Riverside, on Collins’s project within the context of the history of art and inter-media aesthetic practices; and exhibition curator Suzanne Weaver in conversation with the artist on his background, motivating ideas and artistic process.

About Concentrations
 Concentrations began in 1981 as part of the Dallas Museum of Art’s commitment to the work of living artists, with the goal of making the work of contemporary artists accessible to Dallas Museum of Art audiences while preserving the excitement of the work.

Concentrations exhibition support is provided by the Donor Circle membership program through leadership gifts of Claire Dewar, Nancy and Tim Hanley, and Cindy and Howard Rachofsky. Previous Concentrations artists include American artist Doug Aitken (in 1999), winner of the 1999 International Prize at the Venice Biennale, and Albanian artist Anri Sala (in 2002), shortlisted in 2002 for the Guggenheim Museum’s Hugo Boss Prize.

Phil Collins: the world won’t listen is No. 52 of the Concentrations series, and exhibition support for it is provided by the Contemporary Art Fund through the gifts of an anonymous donor, Arlene and John Dayton, Laura and Walter Elcock, Amy and Vernon Faulconer, Nancy and Tim Hanley, Marguerite Hoffman, Kenny Goss and George Michael, Suzanne and Patrick McGee, Allen and Kelli Questrom, Cindy and Howard Rachofsky, Deedie and Rusty Rose, Gayle and Paul Stoffel, and Sharon and Michael Young, and by the Donor Circle membership program through leadership gifts of Gail and Dan Cook, Claire Dewar, Nancy and Tim Hanley, Caren Prothro, and Cindy and Howard Rachofsky.  Air transportation provided by American Airlines.

About the Dallas Museum of Art
The Dallas Museum of Art, established in 1903, has an encyclopedic collection of more than 23,000 works, spanning 5,000 years of history and representing all media, with renowned strengths in the arts of the ancient Americas, Africa, Indonesia and South Asia; European and American painting, sculpture and decorative arts; and American and international contemporary art.

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