The Serpentine Gallery is delighted to present Philippe Parreno’s first solo exhibition in a UK public institution. Born in 1964, Parreno rose to prominence in the 1990s, earning critical acclaim for his work, which employs a diversity of media including film, sculpture, performance and text.
Parreno’s exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery has been conceived as a scripted space in which a series of events unfolds. The visitor is guided through the galleries by the orchestration of sound and image, which heightens their sensory experience. Noise from Kensington Gardens and from the surrounding streets can be heard inside the Gallery, as though the outside is leaking in. The blinds come up to reveal a sudden change of weather. Taking the exhibition as a medium, Parreno has sought to redefine the exhibition experience by exploring its possibilities as a coherent ‘object’ rather than acollection of individual works.
The show features the UK premiere of Parreno’s latest film, Invisibleboy (2010), the story of an illegal Chinese immigrant boy who sees imaginary monsters that are scratched onto the film stock. In this filmic portrait, fantasy and social realism, fiction and documentary overlap. June 8, 1968 (2009) recalls the train voyage that transported the corpse of assassinated senator Robert Kennedy from New York to Washington D.C. Kennedy’s invisible body and the Invisibleboy are characters that float between several layers of reality. Set in Asia, The Boy from Mars (2003) follows dimming points of light and reflections of the sun, before lingering on buffalo tied to a purpose-built structure containing an electricity-generating machine that provides the power required to make the film.
Whether through the cinematic image or the exhibition itself, Parreno explores and manipulates contemporary signs in all of their hallucinatory reality.
The Serpentine exhibition follows a series of related but distinct retrospectives of the artist’s work presented at Kunsthalle Zürich; Centre Pompidou, Paris (both 2009); the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2009–10); and the Centre for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, New York (2009–10).