Gladstone Gallery and Gladstone 64 are pleased to present a new exhibition by Philippe Parreno spanning across its New York galleries.
At Gladstone Gallery on 24th street, Parreno presents a new film, Anywhen In a Time Colored Space (2019). This work is a continuation of his work Anywhen (2016), filmed by renowned Iranian-French cinematographer Darius Khondji and featuring the voice of Nina Conti, actor, comedienne and ventriloquist. Performing the artist’s own writing integrated with fragments of James Joyce, the amalgamation of words read by Conti makes explicit Parreno’s interest in artificial, digital, and organic matter, and particularly how these forms of life communicate.
The film is comprised of long sequences of a live cuttlefish (Sepia Oficinalis — a Mediterranean species of cephalopod) that can change the surface of its body—responding to outside forces such as light, sound and vibration, seemingly projecting the thoughts contained in the monologue. Much of the film focuses on the cuttlefish, which Parreno first kept in a tank in his studio.
These mollusks have evolved a complex system of dermal units under neural, hormonal, and muscular control to produce an astonishing variety of body patterns. With parallels to the pixels on a television screen, cephalopod chromatophores can be coordinated to produce dramatic, dynamic, and rhythmic displays.
As colors ripple through the cuttlefish body, creating graceful, delicate gestures with its tentacles, the Mollusck appears to interact with the viewer through an incomprehensible eye, as Conti’s broken voice-over narrates the abstract texts. The decontextualized script provides a hypnotic, almost alien sound effect as the cuttlefish changes and communicates through its skin.
Originally produced for the Tate Modern Turbine Hall Hyundai Commission in 2016, this new iteration of Anywhen has been completely re-edited and reformatted from its original context and incorporates Parreno’s recent exploration of Artificial Intelligence. The end of each showing of Anywhen In a Time Colored Space incorporates “Next Frame Prediction,” recalling a time when videocassettes needed rewinding after each viewing and illuminated a room with bright static. This dedicated tool generates film footage by predicting the next frame from the previous and applying it recursively. By the end of the exhibition, the AI may produce an additional a copy of the film, or a wholly new idiosyncratic assemblage. This new iteration of “rewinding” becomes a way remembering of time, while the exhibition moves into speculative realms.
Select walls of the gallery are covered in a phosphorescent wallpaper depicting repeating black irises. The pattern comes from Parreno's 2012 film, Marilyn, which conjures up the presence of Marilyn Monroe in the set of a suite at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, where the actress lived in the 1950s. The ghostly figure that repeats throughout this work represents signature components of Parreno’s practice: blurring the lines between the past and present, and the real and unreal, by bringing the past of the hotel and the hypothetical future of the film into the gallery.
At Gladstone 64, Parreno presents a new sculpture from his Fraught Times series, which he has experimented with since the late 1990s. The new work, Fraught Times, For Eleven Months of the Year it's an Artwork and in December it's Christmas (2019), reimagines this recurring project in an entirely new form, though one visually and conceptually connected to his earliest works from this series. This latest iteration is once again a hyper-realistic simulacrum of a traditional Christmas tree, replete with delicately placed, vibrantly colored ornaments and a makeshift stand of a pot and palette. While earlier trees had large, overexaggerated branches that balanced large clumps of snow later trees were devoid of it, making the tree on view now enact an eerie return to the repressed gesture. This newest version of Fraught Times returns the work to its original conceptual structure, with snow, colorful glass ornaments, and a palette bottom joined together for the first time in steel. While seemingly lit from within, making it appear as if it freshly brought in from the outdoors, the trees continual presence speaks to the degradation of the aura, its ritual overly rehearsed to the point of creating new conditions of meaning. In a sense, the tree’s constant iteration creates continually shifting contexts which speak to the same unknown terrain of the continually regenerated ending of Anywhen.
Alongside this new work are a series of two snowdrifts and a pond of water in glass extend the illusion.