Phil Collins: Ceremony
One century after the 1917 Russian revolution, Cooper Gallery is proud to present in Dundee Ceremony, an exhibition by filmmaker and visual artist Phil Collins.
Reflecting on the work and legacy of Friedrich Engels, co-author of the Communist Manifesto with Karl Marx, Ceremony is a nuanced and timely exploration of Engels' ideas within the context of the social conditions in contemporary Britain.
Political revolutions and class struggle mark our world in many different and surprising ways. From ushering in new social relationships, to unsettling hierarchies and imagining radically different cultural perspectives, revolution is first and foremost about people and ideas. But perhaps the most enduring and concrete traces of revolutions, specifically those of the 20th century, remain monumental public sculptures.
Appropriating a decommissioned 1970 statue from former Eastern Europe, Collins' multi-faceted project explores how we perceive and still live today with the complex politics that underpin revolutionary desires. Featuring an artist's film and a set of printed backdrops, Ceremony at Cooper Gallery indexes the symbols of revolution, industrialisation and contemporary Western imperialism to provide a critical mediation on both the passing of an idea and the necessity for its urgent reappraisal in the 21st century.
Tracing the journey of a communist era statue from one side of Europe to its permanent relocation in Manchester, where Engels wrote his seminal work The Condition of the Working Class in England, Ceremony cuts back and forth to the lives of Collins' collaborators in present day Britain to unpack how the idea of communism continues to provide a visionary alternative to the tyranny of capital. Unrolling through Collins' trademark mosaic of genres and visual approaches, from artist's film and staged performance to archive, documentary and experimental TV, Ceremony provides a fitting occasion for reconsidering working class histories and industrial struggles that have marked, and still do, the city of Dundee.
Acknowledging Engels' observations on the condition of the working class in the 19th century as its starting point, a Panel Discussion on the preview evening will bring together representatives from activist and community groups in Dundee and beyond. Reflecting upon the past decade of austerity measures in the UK, the discussion will engage different perspectives on the hardships and injustices of life under contemporary capitalism.
Information published by Leisure and Culture Dundee.