Eight Art Project
Eight Art Project

Philippe Parent’s Hypothesis at the Hangar Bicocca.

Hypothesis, the gift made by the curator Andrea Lissoni (Milan, 1970) to the Hangar Bicocca shortly before leaving to join the curatorial staff of the Tate Modern, is in fact conceived as a celebration of Parreno’s career, but also and above all as a reflection on the multiple levels of significance that can be assigned to the exhibition space. For example the historical and artistic one, through the re-presentation of the set elements for Walkaround Time (1968), an incisive attempt to hold a dialogue with the celebrated installation of the American Jasper Johns (1930) and the others who contributed to the formation of the French artist; the museological one, through an exhibition that should not be seen as an orderly sequence of works of art, but as an organic installation open to stimuli coming from the people who visit it; and, finally, the technological one, in view of the considerable engineering skills required for the realization of each of the luminous and musical fragments that animate the exhibition.

Walking through the nave of the immense Hangar Pirelli, you cannot in effect avoid being flooded by light from Danny the Street (2006-15)—the title comes from the character created by Grant Morrison and Brendan McCarthy for DC Comics—a monumental installation consisting of nineteen Marquees made of Plexiglas and light bulbs suspended in mid-air. Inspired by the luminous signs that were used by movie theaters up until the 1950s to advertise the films on show, they line the route through Hypothesis, revealing to the visitor moving through the area beneath them the potentiality of an event. What is striking about Andrea Lissoni’s work is precisely his ability to present to the public a space that is not immobile, nor rigidly organized into a chronological crescendo, but appears as mutable and fluid as the lights and the music that pervade it.

Another Day with Another Sun (2014), fruit of a collaboration with his fellow artist Liam Gillick (1964), is a sort of artificial sun, a powerful beam of light that moves from east to west on two tracks, illuminating the space and redefining the elements of its architecture. Sound is provided by two Disklavier pianos, which play back a score recorded by the pianist Mikhail Rudy and composed by Parreno himself with the aid of the musician Nicolas Becker. It is followed by, among others, the videos Anywhere Out of the World (2000), The Crowd (2015) and Marilyn (2012), the product of very different periods and creative experiences but equally capable of demonstrating how Parreno sees the practice of art as a work of postproduction, a need to give images a new narrative meaning: “Today, there are no longer images that are beautiful, there are only chains of images. [...] What I mean by ‘chain’ is a dynamic structure that produces forms: preproduction, production, postproduction, these narrative instances depend upon each other.”

In conclusion, Hypothesis is an exhibition that takes the form of an open-ended narrative, an exploration of Philippe Parreno’s career that is presented as a possibility and not as an unequivocal and definitive definition. The strength of the project undoubtedly lies in the choice not to use the large industrial spaces as containers, but as generators of aesthetic and social experiences. So the Hangar Bicocca is once again being presented in the persuasive experimental guise that had already characterized the exhibitions of Tomás Saraceno and Cildo Meireles, offering the public another intriguing key to the interpretation of contemporary existence.

Elena Tettamanti


Milan // until February 14th, 2016
Philippe Parreno. Hypothesis.
curated by Andrea Lissoni

Fondazione Pirelli HangarBicocca
Via Chiese 2, 20126 Milano
+39 02 66 11 15 73


Photo credits:
1.2.3 Philippe Parreno, Danny The Street, 2015 (detail)
VIew of "Philippe Parreno's exhibition H{N)Y PN(Y} OSIS", Park Avenue Armory, New York Courtesy Pilar Corrias, Barbara Gladstone, Esther Schipper.
Photo ©Andrea Rossetti

4. Philippe Parreno, The Crowd, 2015
Video still, video, 24’, col., sound © Philippe Parreno
Courtesy Pilar Corrias, Barbara Gladstone, and Esther Schipper.

December 2015
Elena Tettamanti