The Return of the Real #1, 2007. All images courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro Gallery, © Phil Collins
The UK television industry has taken rather a pummelling lately, from the discovery that phone line and competition fixing was widespread practice, even on shows as homely as Richard & Judy and Blue Peter, to the seemingly daily emergence of a catalogue of other “viewer betrayals”, including the discovery that even the Queen is not above being manipulated by the editor’s hand.
Into this climate comes artist Phil Collins’ solo show at the Victoria Miro gallery, where he presents the outcome of a project that began as part of his contribution to last year’s Turner Prize exhibition. Collins has been exploring ideas around popular factual programming on television, most typically reality television shows, for four years now, and he used the high profile that comes with being nominated for the Turner Prize to engage with the media about some of the issues that arise from appearing on these shows. As part of his Turner Prize exhibit, he set up a fully-functioning production office at Tate Britain, the rather sweetly titled Shady Lane Productions, and appealed for people who felt their lives had been negatively affected by appearing in reality TV shows to come forward and tell their stories, with the promise that their contributions to his films would remain uncensored and unedited.