Philippe Parreno believes that “a project is more important than the object.” Following this guiding principle, he creates site-specific installations that transform their environments and examine the ways in which meaning can be made—particularly the passage of time, memory, and non-linguistic methods of storytelling. Parreno frequently collaborates with other artists and cinematographers, and believes that “art is conversational. There is no art without conversation.”
Born in Oran, Algeria, and raised in Grenoble, France, Parreno now lives and works in Paris. His early works include video-conference lectures incorporating footage from television shows and films. In 1999, Parreno collaborated with Pierre Huyghe to buy the copyright to a manga character named AnnLee and create a series of videos titled No Ghost Just a Shell. Other artists created works involving AnnLee, and their collective work culminated in a group exhibition. Parreno continued collaborating on films, creating Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, which followed soccer player Zinedine Zidane through a 90-minute match, in 2006; and June 8, 1968, a film about the train that carried Robert Kennedy’s body from New York to Washington, in 2009. Parreno’s films can start anywhere—during a conversation with a friend, from an observation made during a soccer game—but nearly always follow a single person or idea. He remarks, “It’s all about conversations, discussions, and pushing an idea one way or another. And once you start, you can’t stop. You have to follow it to the end of the journey.”
In 2003, Parreno produced a series of 15 phosphorescent screenprints depicting images related to his work—often ephemeral actions and performances—from the previous decade. Printed with phosphorescent ink, the images become visible only when exposed to light and then immediately plunged into darkness. In 2019, Parreno was commissioned to create a site-specific environment at MoMA. Using motorized sculptures, video animation, light, and sound, he exhibited a series of interconnected objects that comprise “Echo,” a being named that inhabits the Museum. Parreno refers to Echo, who responds to its environment, as a “sensible and sentient autopoetic automaton that perceives and reflects.” Parreno said, “My work is never about anything, but about finding the condition for something to happen.”
Introduction by Lydia Mullin, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture, 2019
Public Space Artist Commissions
Feb 19–May 14, 2012
Comic Abstraction: Image-Breaking, Image-Making
Mar 4–Jun 11, 2007
Oct 14, 2001–Jan 20, 2002
Postcards from Alphaville: Jean-Luc Godard in Contemporary Art, 1963–1992
Nov 8, 1992–Jan 10, 1993
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