Saturday, March 26, 2016

Exhibitions | It's alive: Philippe Parreno lights up Gladstone Gallery


It's alive: Philippe Parreno lights up Gladstone Gallery

The artist's latest show includes an active bioreactor
by Dan Duray  |  24 March 2016
It's alive: Philippe Parreno lights up Gladstone Gallery
An installation view of Philippe Parreno's Gladstone Gallery exhibition If This Then Else. Courtesy Gladstone Gallery
Last year, Philippe Parreno's installation at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, H {N)Y P N(Y} OSIS, delivered on the promise of its title, drawing such crowds that visitors seemed to have wandered to the show without volition. Not far fr om there, Barbara Gladstone has now brought the French artist to her new uptown gallery with If This Then Else, a sprawling show that reaches its tentacles down to Gladstone's Chelsea space as well.

Initiates to the townhouse space will be able to identify it by the flickering lights outside. These, like other elements of the show in both locations, are tied to a complex "bioreactor" in the back room on the first floor, which, although not specially stylised, still looks like something from Dr. Frankenstein's lab. Fluctuations in a beaker that contain a microorganism modify the atmospheric condition of a gallery upstairs filled with foil balloons shaped like fish. The fish float seemingly organically in the gallery.

The bioreactor also affects elements of the show's Chelsea iteration, which climaxes in a new, 16-minute video, Li-Yan (2016). The movie renders strange various parts of New York, like Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, through expressionistic sound editing and cinematography. Perspective jumps between the first and third person omniscient—objects are always way too close or way too far—so you're always at an odd proximity to whatever is actually happening. This builds to a light show that brings to mind the alien ship in Steven Spielberg's 1977 film Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Don't forget to head upstairs at Chelsea, wh ere Mont Analogue (2001) has Parreno translating René Daumal's novel of the same name into a "series of colorimetric changes," the gallery's cheeky press release says. It's a bit of a one-liner, but coming from a virtuoso, those can be quite effective.

Philippe Parreno, If This Then Else, Gladstone Gallery, New York, until 16 April

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