Philippe Parreno

Born in 1964 in Oran (DZ)
Lives and works in Paris (FR)

L'homme public

Video, colour, sound
Durée : 23'
Year of Purchase: 1995

Through his work, Philippe Parreno is part of that generation of artists who, instead of creating objects, and perpetuating the creative act of the artist/artisan, sets up situations which take the form of discourse, event, football match, meal… so many places of protest and areas of sociability which involve the onlooker’s active participation. Since 1988, Parreno has been coming up with projects jointly produced with other artists: Pierre Joseph, Rirkrit Tiravanija…
Taking advantage of events like openings and similar inaugurations, Parreno interferes with and surreptitiously upsets traditional situations. At the opening of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Marseilles, Yves Lecoq, a famous television star, borrowing the voices of the notorious satirical TV news puppets, mimics various official speeches, a few minutes before the actual arrival of the real Minister of Culture of the day (L’homme publicPublic Man).
Imitation, and the reappropriation of fictitious characters and ‘conceptual characters’ (Foucault), is the problem set of the short film titled La Nuit des Héros (The Night of the Heroes). Parreno juxtaposes tangible reality, imagined reality, utterances about art and commentaries, to produce an ironical and cruel fiction about contagious madness, nothing less than a poetic merry-go-round against a background of Le Corbusier architecture.
In this logic of derision and imitation, Parreno pushes to the limit the caricature of the art critic in No more reality 1 which strives to explain and shed light on art. The incomprehensible discourse mixes languages and intentions, and all that remains is the spectacle of the idiot, the simpleton, the artist of the absurd.
The irresponsible person manipulated by the media seems also to be stygmatized in No more reality 2_, a short programme involving children with banners and slogans. The child, the madman, the stammerer, and the simpleton are all stock figures of the artist at the end of the 20th century. These characters are handicapped by media communication, and they reveal the limits of discourse and words.
mixes the image of a Gulf War soldier crawling along the ground, a New York athlete, and a court jester. The ‘snaker’ look just as the form of the video clip, parody advertising, where dreams are realities and vice versa.
The paucity of the contents and advertising forms seems to have inspired Cinemascope, where the quality of the image is deliberately denied. No framing whatsoever, no continuity and no editing: the meal scenes follow on from images of quivering façades filmed from the seat of a car.
Footballer-artists mingle in a great ‘inter-cultural jamboree’ during the first Contemporary Art Biennial in Johannesburg.
Taken together, Parreno’s videos present a grotesque report of an artistic praxis which consists in overlaying realities, in order to rail against the flaws in our perception of the world, and in our certainties.

Béatrice Josse