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Philippe Parreno at the Serpentine Gallery

© 2010 Philippe Parreno  Philippe Parreno, Invisibleboy, 2010, Film still, Courtesy of Air de Paris, Courtesy of Centre National des Arts Plastiques, © 2010 Philippe Parreno.
  Philippe Parreno, June 8, 1968, 2009, Film still, Courtesy of Pilar Corrias Ltd.,                © 2010 Philippe Parren
Some of you may already be familiar with the French-Algerian artist, Philippe Parreno. In 2006 he collaborated with the Scottish artist Douglas Gordon on their highly regardedZidane – A 21st Century Portrait", a film about the world renowned footballer Zinedine Zidane. Parreno is best known for his collaborative work. He has spent much of his career working with artists, musicians and film makers. His show at the Serpentine Gallery is in fact his first solo show in UK.


The exhibition consists of a handful of installations and four films which are shown in succession, on a loop throughout the day. This layout means that Parreno makes the viewer follow a certain pattern, which helps shape the interpretation of the exhibition.
The first film to be shown is Parreno’s latest picture: Invisibleboy (2010). This tells the story of a small Chinese boy who is an illegal immigrant in New York’s Chinatown. The boy survives by creating a fantasy world filled with gigantic make-believe creatures. This imaginary world exists parallel to the films social documentary form. As the title suggest, the boy, just as the monsters he creates aren’t supposed to exist, yet the issues surrounding this subject clearly do.
The question about existence follows us into the next screening. We are led into the centre space of the gallery. This short film is titled film June 8, 1968 (2009). It takes us on a journey from New York to Washington DC and visually depicts the route taken by Robert Kennedy’s body. The only sound we can hear is a trains familiar creaking and shunting. These sounds and images create a biblical atmosphere. The film is an uncanny view of a funeral cortège - a unique last journey, where what the viewer sees has become the film’s main focal point.
Next follows one of Parreno's early films about a school demonstration in Nice entitled No more reality (1993). Here we repeatedly hear school children shouting "no more reality", but the brightness is so overwhelming it becomes hard to see them. This film stands in sharp contrast to Parreno's fourth and final film TheBoyfromMars (2003). This film differs from the previous screenings because of its changing subjects. TheBoyfromMars may have little in common with the other films, as regards to its visual content. Nether the less, psychologically it evokes the same kind of feelings.  This includes a subject which is constant throughout the exhibition: humanity. All the films have the ability to pose questions about the links between dream, existence, reality and invisibility. Parreno adds further substance to these questions with the installation of snow, falling slowly on the east side of the Gallery. The dreamlike atmosphere is all around us when entering Philippe Parreno’s world and it is easy to be captured by it.

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