FOR over two decades, French artist Philippe Parreno has created art that cannot be contained neatly on gallery walls. His mediums are as diverse as his inspirations and include film, sculpture, text, drawing and installations. Visitors to his exhibitions are encouraged not just to view the work, but to experience it.
The visual storyteller comes to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) with a new show; Philippe Parreno: Thenabouts. The free exhibition mainly focuses on Parreno’s filmic works which guides visitors through a “complex journey of images, duration, memory, and the passage of time.”
Since his first film Fleurs (1987), Parreno has collaborated with other artists – as well as architects, composers, musicians and philosophers – to create pieces influenced by film, science fiction, and the natural and supernatural worlds.
Recently, the French artist sat down with Dr Amelia Barikin, contemporary art historian and Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Queensland, to talk about influences, collaborations and the fickle nature of memory.
The one hour In Conversation was wide-ranging, and the opposite of linear, but the historian gave the audience a fascinating glimpse into the mind of one of the most diverse artists of the 21 Century, or as Wallpaper calls him “master of the immersive.”
He rose to prominence in the 1990s and quickly became known for transforming conventional gallery spaces into exciting, unpredictable spaces by orchestrating sound and imagery.
One piece on show at ACMI includes Marilyn (2012), a film set in a suite at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel where Marilyn Monroe lived in the 1950s. Using a camera, a computer and a robot that re-creates her handwriting, the Hollywood actress, who Parreno says was “killed by her own image”, is brought back to life, through art.
In C.H.Z (2011), Parreno created and filmed Continuously Habitable Zones – a black garden based on scientific studies that reveal that if a planet had two or more dwarf suns, photosynthesis would produce only black vegetation. The collaboration with landscape architect Bas Smets produced a piece of work that looks like the surface of an alien planet. Repeated patterns in the dirt conjure up images of spacecraft landings, while close up of crushed glass adds a sense of mystery. The black garden continues to grow and can be found in Porto, Portugal.
That piece stands in stark contrast to June 8, 1968 (2009), a film that follows the train journey that took Senator Robert Kennedy’s body from New York to Washington. As townspeople and spectators line the track, solemnly gazing at the passing of history, Parreno captures a unique intersection where small town America and American mythology meets.
For an immersive exhibition not to be missed, visit Philippe Parreno: Thenabouts , ACMI, 6 December – 13 March, 2017.