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Richard Phillips

Lindsay Lohan

2011

HD Video, sound, colour

1:37min

© 2020 Richard Phillips

Courtesy of Gagosian

Richard Phillips

Sasha Grey

2011

HD Video, sound, colour

1:32min

© 2020 Richard Phillips

Courtesy of Gagosian

Richard Phillips

First Point

2012

HD Video, sound, colour

6:44min

© 2020 Richard Phillips

Courtesy of Gagosian

 

"When we can’t determine what art is—when we get to that point where we’re not sure, that’s the strongest likelihood that we’re actually experiencing something great. That’s what the art world is most afraid of, because we don’t know how to assign value, whether it’s cultural or otherwise. In a way the films were meant to be a destabilizing artwork. They exist in another area, a zone where we were free to work."
-Richard Phillips

For Phillips, critique is as much an intrinsic material in the conception and staging of his work as the materials of their making. His conflating of subject and genre continues to provide challenging comment on the condition and reach of contemporary art. Phillips' film work hinges on the self-awareness of real-life subjects. Lindsay Lohan, 2011 and Sasha Grey, 2011, his first two films, made their debut at the Commercial Break film project at the 2011 Biennale di Venezia. In these "motion portraits ", the notorious actresses pose erotically—Grey in a modernist John Lautner home, and Lohan in an aquamarine infinity pool. Both actresses project self-conscious recognition in their performances and in turn point toward the transformative potential of narrative action, framed by their compelling beauty. Phillips’s third film, First Point, 2012 marked his second collaboration with Lohan and third collaboration with legendary surf filmmaker Taylor Steele. A contemporary film noir, First Point juxtaposes haunting nocturnal imagery with surf sequences in which female pro-surfer  Kassia Meador (Lohan's acknowledged stunt double) and Lohan herself appear. Phillips uses collaborative forms of image production to reorder the relationship of Pop art to its subjects. The staging and format of his films presage the return of their subjects as paintings; eventually, they form the foundation for lush, large-scale works such as Sasha, 2012, Lindsay II, 2012, and Lindsay III, 2012, realist portraits of the place-holders of their own mediated existence.