to Make a Refugee, 1999, video
Simple Instrument, 1999,
video The works of Phil Collins address conflict situations,
the camera and the media, promote fallibility, awkwardness
and low fidelity as methods of discussing, with questionable
authority, ideas which have a pressing emotional and political
significance for an audience. How To Make A Refugee is a set
of works filmed in Skopje, Macedonia, and the refugee camps
at Stenkovec and Chegrane, during the conflict of May 1999.
Simple Instrument was filmed in Belgrade during Christmas
1999. Both pieces, and the accompanying prints, consider the
camera and artist as ambivalent and complicit critics in the
organisation of images for political and aesthetic consumption.
The work in many ways eschews the smugness and bravado of
reportage; it reveals, in some ways, not differences but similarities,
an ease and responsiveness from the subjects rather than danger
or difficulty, and the shame and embarrassment of eliciting
pictures which the press and visual media continually reproduce.
It is here that we, the viewers, may find ourselves implicated
in the messiness and the complex emotional responses of the
subjects - as collusive witnesses to the action we consume,
and also, in a more general sense, in the tacit shame of our
roles as ineffectual political bystanders.