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Phil Collins, b.1970

How to Make a Refugee2000

Filmed in Skopje, Macedonia, and the refugee camps at Stenkovec and Chegrane, during the Kosovo conflict of May 1999, ‘How to Make a Refugee’ bears witness to the process of photographing refugees for a news report, presenting a behind-the-scenes look, which comments on the construction of identity. Collins’s camera notices details that we do not normally see such as taking light-level readings. The news photographer and crew discuss the clothes one of the subjects is wearing, deciding whether he looks better with or without his baseball cap. We hear an interpreter translating instructions and questions from the crew; however, we learn very little information about the people in the film through this exchange, which is more concerned with arranging the families as a wedding photographer might, asking everyone to look at the lens. The subjects do not engage directly with Collins’s camera as he observes the events, but rather than a feeling of voyeurism there is a great sense of empathy in the piece.

Duration11 min
Credit LineIMMA Collection: Purchase, 2004
EditionEdition 2/3
Item NumberIMMA.1656
Not on view
Image Caption
Phil Collins, How to Make a Refugee, 2000, Video, Duration: 11 min, Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Purchase, 2004

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About the Artist

Phil Collins b.1970

English artist and film maker Phil Collins studied Drama and English at the University of Manchester. He worked with the London-based performance group Max Factory before moving to Belfast to complete an MA in Fine Art at the University of Ulster. Collins’ photographic and video installations involving diverse social groups gained critical attention from 1999. While still a student he was selected to show at Manifesta 3 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Collins was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2006.
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