(Yeah, I just wanted to use all the vowels in that title.)
Recently the artist Philippe Parreno has been haunting me (this story again). It started because I was planning on writing something about the film he co-directed with Douglas Gordon, Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait. Then I happened to start reading Veronica Gonzalez’s twin time: or, how death befell me—and on the back cover: a blurb from Philippe Parreno. The next day, someone asked me about the Serpentine Gallery in London, so I looked it up, and saw that Philippe Parreno is having an exhibition there. I get it, Philippe Parreno. I took the train to London.
I’m not gifted with summaries. From the Serpentine Gallery website:
Parreno’s exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery has been conceived as a scripted space in which a series of events unfolds. The visitor is guided through the galleries by the orchestration of sound and image, which heightens their sensory experience. Noise from Kensington Gardens and from the surrounding streets can be heard inside the Gallery, as though the outside is leaking in. The blinds come up to reveal a sudden change of weather. Taking the exhibition as a medium, Parreno has sought to redefine the exhibition experience by exploring its possibilities as a coherent ‘object’ rather than a collection of individual works.
The show features the UK premiere of Parreno’s latest film, Invisibleboy (2010), the story of an illegal Chinese immigrant boy who sees imaginary monsters that are scratched onto the film stock. In this filmic portrait, fantasy and social realism, fiction and documentary overlap. June 8, 1968 (2009) recalls the train voyage that transported the corpse of assassinated senator Robert Kennedy from New York to Washington D.C. Kennedy’s invisible body and the Invisibleboy are characters that float between several layers of reality.
Set in Asia, The Boy from Mars (2003) follows dimming points of light and reflections of the sun, before lingering on buffalo tied to a purpose-built structure containing an electricity-generating machine that provides the power required to make the film.
Whether through the cinematic image or the exhibition itself, Parreno explores and manipulates contemporary signs in all of their hallucinatory reality.