CLEVELAND, OH — Artist Phil Collins (not to be confused with musician and former Genesis member Phil Collins) began his collaborative 2013 project, 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, which debuted at MoCA Cleveland on October 7 as part of their fall program, by installing a phone booth with a free line at a homeless shelter in Cologne, Germany. Unlimited local and international calling was made available to guests of the shelter, with the agreement that the conversations would be recorded and made anonymous. Selections from these recordings were shared with a group of musicians from Collins’s network, including David Sylvian, Scritti Politti, Lætitia Sadier, Maria Minerva and Damon & Naomi, and Planningtorock, who used the collected audio to create new musical works. The installation at MoCA is comprised of six solo listening booths, within which visitors to the museum can play these 7” vinyl records on personal record players, according to their whims.
It is sometimes difficult, with art that takes on loaded subject matter, to discern between work that is powerful and source material that is powerful. The exhibition statement highlights the “universal transformative potential of music,” but I would not characterize the experience of listening in on personal conversations, usually between semi- to fully-indigent individuals and their estranged family members as “transformative” of that material, soothing tunes notwithstanding.