Philippe Parreno
Christine Macel, May 18, 2009
Philippe Perreno/Fraught Times_For Eleven Months of the Year it's an Artwork and in December it's Christmas, October 2008
Philippe Perreno/Fraught Times_For Eleven Months of the Year it's an Artwork and in December it's Christmas, October 2008

From the very beginning, Philippe Parreno has worked collaboratively, first with a group of fellow-artists that started with Pierre Joseph and Bernard Joisten and later came to include Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Philippe Perrin. His work continues to revolve around a collaborative multivocality that draws on a wide range of sources, from John Cage to Mikhail Bakhtin. The works themselves manifest the same commitment to interaction, as for example Sac Ozone (1988), filled with objects to be handled by the public — Parreno has always seen the exhibition as a space of freedom, community and play. It was against this background that in the early ‘90s there emerged the beginnings of a more personal body of work, with the No More Reality project, launched with a video of children demonstrating in a school playground, chanting the slogan of the title. The artist’s reflection on the exhibition as medium, already evident in the earlier collective works, then developed more decisively, leading to Snow Dancing, 1995. This work consists of three elements, one of them a book of the same title that describes an event. This event, a party-like series of micro-events in a single venue, then took place, just as described, at the Consortium, Dijon. The event, in turn, was followed by the opening, which revealed only the traces of its past future. Here, fiction became reality, to the point of being indistinguishable from it.

Philippe Perreno/Philippe_Parreno-Speech_Bubbles
Philippe Perreno/Philippe_Parreno-Speech_Bubbles
The early years of this decade saw the conceptual aspect of the work come to the fore, while Parreno’s imaginary became dominated, more than ever, by the themes of the ghostly and of the “hollow” subject. Questions of authorship, of collective creation, of copyright and copyshare were returned to in what are today the artist’s best-known works: Ann Lee (the Japanese manga character bought with Pierre Huyghe who figured in a number of works before her retirement in 2002), Crédits… (a film of 2000, whose full title is the list of the 17 people who worked on it) and Bryannnnnn Ferryyyyyy (a film of 2004, on the law and practice of copyright, made with Liam Gillick).

Reflection on the time of the exhibition found expression in Alien Seasons at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, in 2002, where the appearance of a cuttlefish in a video triggered the other works. The theme of the ghostly made a return after Ann Lee, with works in fluorescent ink visible only in the dark, disappearing in the light (Fade Away). And in the film El Sueño de una Cosa (2001, MNAM), Parreno conceives of different versions of the same work, which varies in each instantiation, exploring different contexts of presentation, from the cinema to the museum, displacing and remixing his own work. Parreno gained much acclaim in 2006 for the film Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, made with Douglas Gordon. In this installation-cum-commercial release the two artists sought to capture presence in the moment, articulating a reflection on time that puts into question its very reality. The series of blank Marquees suggests that exhibitions be experienced in cinematic time, while Il Tempo del Postino, a collaborative performance at the Manchester Opera House, takes Parreno’s exploration of exhibition one step further in “delivering” art in a new way, in a new space.

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