Research – Philippe Parreno

The first article in the latest edition of ‘Art Monthly’ is an interview with the French artist Philippe Parreno.  Parreno is one of a group of artists who emerged in the late 1990s and has an exhibition named ‘Anywhen’ currently in the Turbine Hall at the Tate gallery.

In the interview Parreno states that in this exhibition he is reducing everything to a minimum and how Anywhen has the idea of a meaning on the back of meaning and is outside of culture; how the exhibition doesn’t really lead to a narrative or a full picture but it is something that people remember.  He states he doesn’t work with the idea of a theme but he is more interested in what the form is and how it was produced and how trying t answer these questions can lead to engagement, tension and finally a release of this tension.  He uses the phrase ‘you create a moment of collectivity in an empty space and in this process you shape the space into something else – like a sculpture’.  This is an interesting idea to me, how the place the artwork is displayed in can be a significant part of the experience of seeing it.  Similar to watching a movie in a cinema, everyone there is almost part of your personal experience, I believe this works in galleries too, the room, the building, the other spectators are all part of a multi-sensory experience that you personally have when you see a piece of work displayed.  In the same way that I can read about the exhibition, view pictures online, even perhaps see video footage but I will never get the true experiences intended as I am very unlikely to get to London to see this exhibition in the flesh.  Similarly, I can view other students work on here, my tutor can look at my work digitally but I don’t think by just seeing things on a computer screen we will ever get the true impact.

Parreno seems to use this idea of the building being part of the art in a significant way.  In the interview he talks about how he spent time with the architects of the hall before he started this project and how he uses the high ceilings of Turbine Hall in his artwork.  Also, interestingly he spends time watching people view the exhibition and often then alters layouts and adds pieces so that over the 6-month commission the piece will change and develop in response to people seeing it.


Watching the video on gave me a glimpse of what the exhibition would be like to see for real.  However, like I already stated this is not going to be anywhere near the experience of seeing it in the multisensory way it was designed.  There are so many things that appeal to me about this exhibition, I like the way the social interactions of people are part of the experience, like Parreno says in the video, people use the space like they would use a park.  I also like the science element, of his creating a life-like component that grows, adapts and interacts with the building and weather conditions.  The time aspect also appeals to me, the fact that the exhibition is always changing and you have to wait for certain things to happen, like time itself is always changing, you can’t go back and look at the exhibition in the same way as you could a 15th Century still life on a wall.

Reading about and viewing videos on this exhibition has given me a lot to think about.  I like the idea of creating something that is always changing but makes people think about time, interactions and gives a multisensory experience.  It has also made me think about the drawings I produce for this course, I can never go back to the exact moment the drawing was created or visualised, all I can do with a fixed drawing is try to capture that emotion, that feeling I had whilst I made the drawing.


Art Monthly (402), 2016.  Olga Smith p1-4