In Detail: Philippe Parreno’s H {N)Y P N(Y} OSIS - City

In Detail: Philippe Parreno’s H {N)Y P N(Y} OSIS

by Roxana Fabius & Elizabeth Larison, Curatorial Assistants

H {N)Y P N(Y} OSIS is Philippe Parreno’s largest solo exhibition in the United States to date. As the title suggests, the installation is both unique and thematically appropriate, as so many of the exhibition’s elements strongly speak to the histories and characteristics of New York City.

The design of the marquees which compose Danny The Street (2015) are inspired by those luminescent awnings synonymous with American theater–much like those which once so prominently lined the streets surrounding Times Square. Parreno’s versions summon a ghostly twist on the hopeful allure of big city dreams, stages, and silver screens which are woven into the fabric of this iconic city. Furthermore, the placement of Parreno’s marquees in yet another (original, preserved) architectural relic–the Wade Thompson Drill Hall–is a reminder of the city’s architecture as an establishing context for possibility. Its massive space allows a multiplicity of things to happen in tandem, permitting visitors’ attention and direction to wander from event to overlapping event. Much as when walking about a city, attention in the Drill Hall is dispersed and floating.

Additionally, nearly all of Parreno’s films screened within H {N)Y P N(Y} OSIS have a set location either within or en route to New York City. Marilyn (2012) takes place Marilyn Monroe’s former home at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel; Invisibleboy (2009) takes place in New York’s Chinatown; June 8, 1968 (2009) takes place en route from Washington DC to New York, and The Crowd (2015) takes place in the Armory’s Drill Hall. All draw inspiration from the mythologies, histories, and dreams that are so embedded within narratives of the city, creating an idiosyncratic portrait that ruminates on the intersection of place and time.

Beyond these contextual overlaps, and perhaps most importantly, the City of New York also plays a prominent role within the function of the exhibition itself. Microphones positioned on the Park Avenue Armory’s external walls occasionally transmit sounds from the surrounding streets to the confines of the Drill Hall, to the effect of dissolving the barriers of inside and outside. Other times, these sounds are the stimuli which trigger and control the sequential order of events and actions which unfold throughout the course of the exhibition. The resulting unpredictable, unreplicable arrangements are the consequence of the city embedded within H {N)Y P N(Y} OSIS.

Photo: James Ewing

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