Phil Collins: Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
Schambelan, Elizabeth, Artforum International
In the nearly two decades since the Smiths broke up, the band's music seems to have become a lingua franca for teens the world over who suspect that life is one big hatful of hollow. Photographer and video artist Phil Collins can attest that fans may be found in locales as far-flung as Bogota, Istanbul, and Jakarta--the sites of a multi-phase project for which Collins invites local adolescents to perform karaoke renditions of Smiths songs, capturing their moves and vocal stylings on video. The results thus far have been two exceedingly engaging (and unusually danceable) video installations: el mundo no escuchara (The World Won't Listen), 2004, filmed in Bogota; and, shown here, dunya dinlemiyor (The World Won't Listen), 2005, filmed in Istanbul. (The Jakarta installment will be completed later this year.)
On view in the artist's first solo exhibition at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, dunya dinlemiyor reiterates the leveling effects of globalization: Istanbul's Smiths devotees wear the kind of trendy, hot-off-the-container-ship apparel that you might see in any big city, and Collins positions them against generic photo-studio backdrops (a forest, a beach). But the issue of national identity asserts itself in the work's Turkish title and in the Turkish flyers pasted on the gallery wall; Turkey's age-old status as a prime destabilizer of the idea of "Europe," currently evidenced in the debate over the country's EU membership, pressurizes the air bubble of placelessness. Within this fragile space, the unnamed singers use the well-known tunes as the basis of richly individual and frequently hilarious performances.
The other work on view at the gallery, a multimedia installation titled the return of the real / gercegin geri donusu, 2005, centers on a monitor-based video of a panel discussion that Collins convened at a hotel in Istanbul, in which ten people who had been on Turkish reality TV shows discussed their experiences. …