Monday, October 7, 2013

Phil Collins @ Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

I like Phil Collins work, and I admit that when I first saw the video of people singing Smiths songs, I thought Phil Collins was that Phil Collins, whom I also like a lot. The new show at Bonakdar has two camper trailers on the first floor that look very lived, in and when I showed up, the camper featured a guy watching what appeared to be a German opera featuring sex with full-on penetration. I didn’t feel comfortable going into the small camper with a stranger to watch the German opera/porn, so I respectively watched from one of the little camper windows, which quickly felt even more unseemly, once other people entered the gallery. All this drove me upstairs to a wonderful video of Asian skinheads adjusting their traditional skinhead outfits of British dress shirts and denim jackets, before going out to a movie and a street fight finishing off by lounging in a large, enclosed tiled courtyard where one of them opens a box, and butterflies proceed to flutter around the reclining skins. The butterflies are surreal and in keeping with the rather pleasant Belle & Sebastian-esque sound track that accompanies the otherwise silent video. The video was extraordinary and served as a wonderful palate cleanser, after feeling shamed for watching German opera porn. It also begs the questions of when Collins is going to go on from directing Mexican soap operas as in his last show to do a full-length movie.

He also had a room of booths to listen to 7-inches made of conversations from phone lines he set up in homeless shelter where people could make free long distance calls if they agreed to be recorded. The recordings were then converted into songs, but I was determined to reengage the German opera porn, so I didn’t spend much time with the booths before returning downstairs to the campers. Armed with a press release, I sat down in an empty camper and watched what could best described as a live version of a German soap opera with some interpretive dance. I read the press release, which explained that the videos are from Collins’ own alternative German shopping network, which auctioned off experiences like being in an opera porn, which where then broadcast the following night on German national television. Which is pretty rad, and reading this while watching people acting ineptly in German with strangers watching me and watching the video from outside the camper was a pretty effective way of getting me to ponder my feelings of being watched and made clear how little of an exhibitionist I am. I apparently feel much more comfortable listening to British indie-rock while watching Asian skinheads in the dark.

Through Oct. 19th


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