Can’t Do Right For Doing Wrongfeatures three large-scale installations – Ceremony; my heart’s in my hand, and my hand is pierced, and my hand’s in the bag, and the bag is shut, and my heart is caught; and Delete Beach – which use digital and analogue technologies to tell the stories of individuals and social groups living under late, accelerated disaster-capitalism.
Bringing together works from the last five years, the exhibition is an expansive spatial and poetic statement which invites engagement with the voices and perspectives of the homeless, the future of resistance in a world without fossil fuels, and the life and revolutionary work of Friedrich Engels whose insights into the 19th century injustices continue to reverberate in today’s society.
About the works
Ceremony is centred around the work and legacy of Friedrich Engels, co-founder of communist theory with his friend Karl Marx and Manchester’s adopted son, who lived here for 20 years. The 1917 Russian Revolution shaped the political landscape of the 20th century. But it was in Manchester, not Imperial Russia, that the idea of communism was born, developed in large part through Engels’ ideas which were shaped by what he observed in the world’s first industrial city. Through the complex layering of a decommissioned 1970 statue from former Eastern Europe, a public gathering, a television documentary, and a new gallery film, Collins’ multi-faceted project links Engels’ work to the social conditions of Britain today.
Presented exactly one year after the statue of Engels was inaugurated outside HOME, where it remains as a permanent work, the new gallery film, re-cut and expanded from a version broadcast on the BBC, revisits a singular moment in our city’s history for which performers, musicians and local communities came together for Engels’ homecoming party. Leading up to this live event, Collins collaborated with activists, organisations and people he met during his year-long residency exploring the lives of workers today. Part of 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War, Ceremonyreconnects Manchester to the idea of communism, which transformed the post-war world and continues to provide a visionary alternative to the tyranny of capital which governs our political, economic and emotional lives.
my heart’s in my hand, and my hand is pierced, and my hand’s in the bag, and the bag is shut, and my heart is caught is a project from 2013 developed in collaboration with guests of GULLIVER Survival Station for the Homeless, located under the railway arches at Cologne’s central station. Selected material from over a thousand free and anonymised phone calls recorded at the facility was posted to a group of international musicians, serving as the starting point for original new tracks presented in the exhibition as 7” vinyl records in a series of specially designed listening booths.
The contributors include some of Collins’ personal heroes (Scritti Politti, David Sylvian, Lætitia Sadier, Damon & Naomi), trailblazing experimental acts (Demdike Stare, Planningtorock, Maria Minerva, Pye Corner Audio, Heroin In Tahiti, Peaking Lights), Cologne musicians across different generations (Elektronische Musik aus: Köln, Pluramon, Cologne Tape), and a special guest turn by the German indie superstar Julia Hummer.
Bringing to the fore the lyrical potential of the human voice when it stands in for subjects of city life who are purposely ignored and routinely overlooked, my heart’s in my hand… dramatises the moment of communication as an intimate and ambivalent exchange. The installation gains a special resonance in Manchester where homelessness is at an all-time high, particularly in tandem with Ceremony and its unorthodox look at the realities of life in 21st century austerity Britain.
Delete Beach is a an anime set in the near future which tells the story of a schoolgirl who joins an anti-capitalist resistance group in a society in which carbon-based energy is outlawed. The film proposes a scenario describing the decline of the oil economy, with the prosperity of the boom years expiring and the necessity of infrastructural changes looming large. As an art form, anime has repeatedly addressed political themes, often through the lens of complex female characters.
In Delete Beach a curious paradox is at work: society has reached an advanced state of independence from carbon fuels, yet it continues to toil as before under a regime of oppression, inequality and control. Following anime’s recognisable aesthetic and storytelling strategies, Collins’ collaboration with STUDIO4°C, one of Japan’s leading animation studios (Tekkonkinkreet), and pop auteur and film composer Mica Levi (Under the Skin, Jackie) brings to life a world at once familiar and disquietingly corroded. For the installation at HOME, Delete Beach is conjured up as an apocalyptic, melancholy shoreline, crashing in from another dimension to play host to a dream-like animation environment.
Ceremony was co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, HOME, Manchester and Manchester International Festival. Produced by HOME, Manchester, Manchester International Festival, Shady Lane Productions and Tigerlily Productions. Supported by Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence, the BBC, the Henry Moore Foundation and My Festival Circle. Ceremony also tours to Baltic, Gateshead, Fri 22 Jun – Sun 30 Sep; mac, Birmingham, Thu 9 Aug – Sun 28 Oct; and Cooper Gallery at Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Dundee, Fri 18 Jan – Sat 16 Feb, 2019.
Delete Beach was commissioned by Bergen Assembly. Supported by Vestnorsk Filmsenter. Co-produced with HAU Hebbel am Ufer Berlin through funding provided by the German Cultural Foundation.
my heart’s in my hand… was originally produced for In Every Dream Home a Heartache, a solo exhibition at Museum Ludwig Cologne (2013). Supported by Akademie der Künste der Welt.