As I get into Palais de Tokyo for the penultimate day of Parreno, I realise a few things have changed: 1) the location of the desk; 2) the entrance fee, which I believe was inexistent before (but maybe I am wrong?); and 3) the permanent pieces that were supposed to stay forever have disappeared, at least on the ground floor near the entrance
Never mind, I want to see what Parreno has made off the Palais de Tokyo. What a luxury to have such a massive space, in the cosy heart of Paris, that is transformable as one likes it, and offers so many possibilities. For the record, it is now a delicious restaurant (I have improved considerably my opinion on Monsieur Bleu compared to my review in its first week of existence in spring), and a multi-purpose concert hall, underground and brand new
Tout est illusion, in Parreno's world. The entrance itself is part of the exhibition. My earlier comment of the entrance desk having moved was correct. It has been moved by Parreno himself, to create contre-jour with employees and visitors. And if the permanent works of art that populated the Palais when it re-opened in 2012 have disappeared, it is to allow Parreno to blur the windows (see picture). We are isolated from the outside, visually as well
56 Flickering Lights are disseminated throughout the ground floor. Hold on, this is called floor 2. They switch on and off at the silent rhythm of Tchaikovsky's Petrushka. Why Petrushka? No idea. The story of a puppet that comes to life. It cannot be random
I step into Parreno's world, feeling like the Mad Hatter penetrating in a world that is already too big for me. As I move nearer the gigantic screen towards the silent head of a new born (Anna, don't confuse this with the film, Hannah...), I am able to see the screen less and less. Playing on contrasts, Parreno turns upside down our beliefs and dwarfs us. Bad for self-esteem. Good to lose arrogance. And hold on, the screen is clear. I can see through it. Can I walk through it? Am not sure. Close, it looks like shutters in a house in La Baule
Next space, musical. As I get closer the piano shuts up, which does not seem to disturb the 30-odd people religiously sitting on the dirty staircase that leads to nowhere. We are in Liam Gillick's Factories in the snow, where a disklaviers piano is being snowed at. There is no other way to say this. And the snow is black. Why would it not be? Funnily I have a very similar piano at home. It plays without a pianist. Judging by the astonishment on people's face, it is the first time they see one. Funny
Petrushka sounds like a well-educated and polished Bela. Bartok I mean. Two German couples are here. Was machen sie hier? Keine Ahnung... I would not have thought it would be an appealing exhibition for foreigners. And they don't look a bit like contemporary art rats. Mystery...
The piano shuts up again. I decide to move, carrying away some black snow with me
The next room is even more Alice in Wonderland fantasy. I am going through Dominique Gonzalez-Forrester's bookshelves as Alice was crossing the mirror. Just to find a changing exhibition where every day a drawing by Cage is replaced with a drawing by Cunningham (in case you have lost the link, Merce Cunningham’s troop of dancers danced Petrushka in New York, and this ballet is one Parreno wants to pay a tribute to). This took place in Margaret Roeder Gallery in 2002 and is simply re-enacted here. Why not?
As I exit the clandestine, geheimnisvoll, room of drawings, the light in the main space has disappeared. Great. The big colourful boards on the wall, which look like a hybrid between Vermeersch and Rutault when the light was on, now become understandable. And visible. Of course, one needs the light to disappear to see. How did I not think about it first. Renseignements pris, these are Parreno's old projects. His ghosts to some extent. That appear only in the dark. La boucle est bouclée, as the light brusquely reappears
With the light back on, I can see the robot that mimicks Parreno's handwriting. Only Delvoye's now famous machine is missing....
Down on the first floor, following some more flickering lights. And off to the Marquee. That is, a collection of 16 suspended neon lighted shapes that switch on and off alternatively, each with their specific sound. The lights flash on the rhythm of Tchaikovsky's music. C’est l'art total. I catch myself thinking about the amount of technology necessary to make this appear all that simple. Amazing
The rotonda, next, is soundtracked with the noise of the steps of Cunningham's dancers – here comes the link. C'est la non-danse at its paroxysm. Longue vie à Jerome Bel! And all this under the ultimate equations of I-cant-remember-whom (back home, Wikipedia is telling me Laurent Derobert), the only permament piece that I have been able to spot so far
Marilyn is recreated on a clear screen through a camera (the look), a robot (the handwriting) and a computer (the voice). But why on earth this fake snow - whitish this time - in the room's corners?
I love the automated doors (see next post). Of course, they don't open on anything. That would be too simple. But when they open, the sound of neighbouring Paris embankments get heard in the room... Eh non, Monsieur, Monsieur Bleu (the entrance of which is in the same room) is not part of the exhibition... Un malin, celui-la
Another piano, another Petrushka
Furthermore than the wood of Marquees, the Continuously Habitable Zones (C.H.Z), shown on another film, look like Baudelaire's forest of Correspondances. They echo the noise in the ground underneath the Palais de Tokyo, whilst this deeply imbricated garden has been created in Portugal. Still feel like the mad hatter, running to my non-birthday party
Where one of the guests may be Annlee. "Which you can write whatever way you want" shouts a loudspeaker. She is the virtuality of one of the last spaces of this exhibition. That turns into reality, incarnated by a not-more-than-eleven years old Lolita, of flesh and bone, that wanders around in the exhibition. In front of a manga-like film. I am going to sit down. Maybe the bravest of the visitors will think I am part of the exhibition too? I feel like Orozco policemen...
Last floor down (I love going down, in the bowels of the earth, to dicover always more and more of this superb exhibition). Some intra space is locked down. Looks like the Penguin's headquarters in Batman. And another wood. Of screens with Zidane's image on each of them. 17 screens showing what 17 cameras have captured in a football match in 2005. Zidane as a piece of art. This is not the first time
It is over, and I am still followed by the Flickering Lights as I go back up from the arty catacombes. Brilliant show, which you have until tomorrow Sunday 12 January to see
And oh, one piece of recommendation to Ms Filipetti, French minister of culture: why not select Philippe Parreno for Monumenta 2015? I am sure someone has already thought about it. But it is not sure if he will accept...
Out of the World
Palais de Tokyo, Paris
Until Sunday 12 January 2014, midnight