11th Gwangju Biennale
2. 9. – 6. 11. 2016



Philippe Parreno

A glowing buzz will flash intensely and permeate the room where Philippe Parreno’s work With a Rhythmic Instinction to be Able to Travel Beyond Existing Forces of Life (2014) will be shown at gb11. The spacious and quadrate LED screen has a center image that flutters itchingly and vehemently and illustrates the skeleton of a firefly. This black and white automaton—a form of film recorded on a high density lighted grid—was created from hundreds of drawings of the insect made by the artist over a period of four years. The drawings are conceived and then given away as triptychs or in larger numbers to emulate “The Game of Life,” a cellular automaton developed by the British mathematician John Horton Conway in 1970. For Horton, algorithms in “The Game of Life” proved that complex patterns are produced by simple repetitions, a process which he exhibited in an infinite two-dimensional orthogonal grid of square cells that could be played on a computer. Similarly, Parreno uses a simple automatic repetition while making the drawings, which then becomes a complex life force on the LED screen. The work is akin to Parreno’s elaborate practice of incorporating biological or mechanical characteristics of various life forms into the exhibition space, which he assembles and disassembles as a work in itself to be experienced as a whole and not only by its individual parts. Parreno came to prominence in the 1990s, and is renowned for working with film, sculpture, drawing, and text. Recent large-scale exhibitions include last year’s “H{N)YPN(Y}OSIS” at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, where he created a sensory journey through his past works and new projects with the use of light, sound, film, collaborations, and apparitions. The Armory show was conceived as one large, open space— similar to a park in which a visitor can wander freely—in concession with the building’s architecture and produced with the participation of numerous individuals. Opposed to an idea of a traveling exhibition, Parreno reconfigures each institutional presentation and revises it for each new space. He has said that the exhibition is a “process, a way to understand things, ideas, and as a way to formulate ideas.” Another significant exhibition was “Anywhere, Anywhere, Out of the World,” at Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2013) where he again comprehensively transformed the space, bringing about phenomenological consciousness and self-awareness for the visitor. It is a general susceptibility constituted by Parreno in his practice and produced within his exhibitions where the visitor can find themselves crossing spatial and temporal boundaries from various perspectives.


A key artist of his generation, Philippe Parreno radically redefined the exhibition experience by taking it as a medium, placing its construction at the heart of his process. Working in a diverse range of media including film, sculpture, drawing, and text, Parreno conceives his exhibitions as a scripted space where a series of events unfold. He seeks to transform the exhibition visit into a singular experience that plays with spatial and temporal boundaries and the sensory experience of the visitor, who is guided through the space by the orchestration of sound and image.
For the artist, the exhibition is less a total work of art than a necessary interdependence that offers an ongoing series of open possibilities.
Based in Paris, France, Parreno has exhibited and published internationally. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux- Arts in Grenoble from 1983–1988 and at the Institut des Hautes Etudes en arts plastiques at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris from 1988–1989.