PHIL COLLINS | 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 – HAU 2

Written by Roberta Coletto

According to the social sciences, a human society is defined as a group that creates interrelations between its members, organizing itself in order to answer to problems and reach common goals otherwise unachievable as a single individual.
Even though this is an oversimplified definition, in 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 Phil Collins (b. 1970, Runcorn, England) pursued exactly the restoration of that element necessary to bring a so-called society into a being: connection.
The entire project was first shown to the public and conceived on the occasion of Collins’ solo exhibition In Every Dream Home a Heartache which took place at Museum Ludwigin Cologne in 2013. IIn Berlin, Collins’ work is now installed and presented at HAU Hebbel am Ufer.
The work is a collaborative project with GULLIVER, a survival station for the homeless that operates a center opened in a railway arch under the Hohenzollern Bridge in Cologne, close to the central train station, the banks of the Rhine and the historic district. The conceptual idea of GULLIVER was formulated in the mid-1990s as a design project of the Köln International School of Design. It then became reality, opening its doors in 2001. It is still successfully running today, accomplishing the purpose of safeguarding the survival of people living on the streets and providing them the opportunity to satisfy their most basic needs.
The artist chose this specific space to install a phone booth with a phone line that anyone could use for unlimited calls, free of charge, asking in exchange the users’ permission to record the conversations for a music project on the agreement that the exchanges would be anonymized. The selected material was then elaborated by various musicians, mainly working with electronic music, who associated conversations with music and utopically translated them into sounds.

Collins’ idea is conceived as a sound installation, ten 7″ vinyl records and a workstation for the visitor to self-discover the work. Listening booths, turntables, amplifiers, speakers and a catalog with all of the transcribed conversations are also part of the available material inside the phone booth.
The guest is asked to choose a booth – referring back to the phone booth used to create the project – and personally choose the order of records listened to.
The result is a concentrated container of humanity, a dive into the essence of being, expressed without narrative awareness.
The human voice is a powerful tool for us to relate with, especially considering that the key players, in this case, are fellow citizens of our cities who are regularly ignored and rendered voiceless ones while others stare at them. Here, you can stare at neighboring windows and, while the record continues between a bitter argument, a sad adventure, a touching experience, you can see the same slice of humanity outside walking by the street. We could be listening to one of them.
“Sir, can you help me? It’s cold and I’ve nowhere to sleep” quoting the opening lines of the song Another Day in Paradise by Phil Collins (yes, this time the artist’s famous musician namesake!). That song portrayed a homeless woman.
HAU2
Hallesches Ufer 32, Berlin

Phil Collins
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
March 18-22; 26-28; March 30 – April 2; April 9-12; April 18-15
5:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Foto: 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, 2011-2014, © Phil Collins