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Phil Collins: Ceremony

18 January 2019 until 16 February 2019
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design

One century after the 1917 Russian revolution, Cooper Gallery is proud to present in Dundee, the Scottish premiere of ‘Ceremony’, an exhibition by filmmaker and visual artist Phil Collins.

Reflecting on the work and legacy of Friedrich Engels, co-author of the Communist Manifesto with Karl Marx, ‘Ceremony’ is a nuanced and timely exploration of Engels’ ideas within the context of the social conditions in contemporary Britain.

Appropriating a decommissioned 1970 statue from former Eastern Europe, Collins’ multi-faceted project explores how we perceive and still live today with the complex politics that underpin revolutionary desires. Featuring an artist’s film and a set of printed backdrops, ‘Ceremony’ indexes the symbols of revolution, industrialisation and contemporary Western imperialism to provide a critical mediation on both the passing of an idea and the necessity for its urgent reappraisal in the 21st century.

Tracing the journey of a communist era statue from one side of Europe to its permanent relocation in Manchester, where Engels wrote his seminal work The Condition of the Working Class in England, Ceremony cuts back and forth to the lives of Collins’ collaborators in present day Britain to unpack how the idea of communism continues to provide a visionary alternative to the tyranny of capital. Ceremony provides a fitting occasion for reconsidering working class histories and industrial struggles that have marked, and still do, the city of Dundee.

Acknowledging Engels’ observations on the condition of the working class in the 19th century as its starting point, a Panel Discussion on the preview evening will bring together representatives from activist and community groups in Dundee and beyond to reflect upon impacts of the past decade of austerity measures in the UK.


‘Ceremony’ was commissioned by Manchester International Festival, 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions and HOME. Produced by Manchester International Festival, HOME, 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’ at Cooper Gallery, DJCAD is supported by the Goethe-Institut Glasgow.


Cooper Gallery website

Phil Collins, still from 'Ceremony', 2018. Courtesy Shady Lane Productions, Berlin and HOME, Manchester

Phil Collins, still from 'Ceremony', 2018. Courtesy Shady Lane Productions, Berlin and HOME, Manchester