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Phil Collins

My favorite moments at exhibitions are those little clicks that go off inside you, those giddy shudders that come when an artist or work hits just the right conceptual or formal groove. I had one looking at Jack Goldstein’s The Pull in The Pictures Generation; it hit me seeing when I first encountered the Provoke photographers at SFMOMA. Baldessari’s Virtue and Vice does it too, though you often know you’re going to get it with his work, which can lessen its impact.

It happened again to me last week walking through the PS1 exhibition The Talent Show, the first show assembled by the contemporary art center’s new chief curator Peter Eleey. Exploring the porous barriers between public/private, artist/spectator, and exploitation/participation, this exhibition feels right; cohesive and well thought-out, you find yourself thinking in tune with Eleey, ticking off the artists you’d like to see as you encounter them room by room. And then, of course, that shudder: the darkened room with Phil CollinsFree Fotolab photo series being projected onto a wall.

The premise is simple: Collins asked participants to send in undeveloped rolls of film, which he processed for free. He then sent back small prints of the work, in exchange for the right to display the photos as his own. Collins’ project works through some of the basic issues in contemporary art – appropriation; authorship; aesthetic value. But the theoretical implications matter less than that gut-level sense of a work that works, simply and easily.

Photography from Free Fotolab

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