In Detail: Philippe Parreno’s H {N)Y P N(Y} OSIS - Ghosts, Avatars, Superheros, and Poltergeists

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

Ghosts, Avatars, Superheros, and Poltergeists
by Roxana Fabius & Elizabeth Larison, Curatorial Assistants

Throughout his career, Philippe Parreno has explored how entities might transcend a given or prior form, and H {N)Y P N(Y} OSIS continues in this tendency by bringing together multiple spectres of alternative existence, including ghosts, superheros, automatons, and avatars.

The role of the sculptural marquees (2006-2015) in establishing this theme is almost immediate, as they loom suspended like white ghosts and become activated (along with the rest of the Drill Hall) as if controlled by a poltergeist. The name of the alleyway of marquees, Danny The Street (2015) is also named for a comic book superhero who takes the form of a street and communicates through storefront signage and illuminations. The supernatural aura projected by Danny The Street is further developed with the pre-performed piano solos by Mikhaïl Rudy. Replayed on two Disklavier pianos, the music fills the room and the keys flutter accordingly, but with no visible musician present.

In Parreno’s films as well, we see these themes. Marilyn (2012) appears to summon the ghost of Marilyn Monroe, as she recounts the details of her famed living quarters at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. We hear her voice and watch her pen as it scrolls her words, and follow her gaze as it jumps about the room. Only at the end of the film is it revealed that these expressions are results of automation and robots, and visitors are left to grapple with yet another type of ghostly entity birthed of technological advancement.

Similarly, Ann Lee (Tino Sehgal, 2011) and Anywhere out of the World (2000) portray variations of the avatar as an alternative being-state, into which dreams, desires, and expressions can be performed and enacted. June 8, 1968 (2009) reenacts footage taken from the train which carried body of Robert F. Kennedy from Washington D.C. to New York after his assassination. In it, RFK serves as the ghost of the film itself, his absence is heavy and tangible. Invisibleboy (2009) follows an illegal immigrant child into his fictive world wherein he suddenly becomes invisible, empowered, mobile.

Transcendent entities become ways in which to explore, imagine, and entertain alternative experiences, which then might also provide greater perspective on everyday events. Here, as in other examples of Parreno’s work, fantasy and technology inform reality and vice versa, as each becomes a way to further explore the possibilities of the other.

Photo: James Ewing

Return to H {N)Y P N(Y} OSIS

Return to Arts at the Armory Listing  

Buy Tickets

June 11–August 2

Tuesday–Thursday: 12:00pm–8:00pm
Friday: 12:00pm–10:00pm
Saturday–Sunday: 11:00am–7:00pm

Wade Thompson Drill Hall
Tickets: $15
Free for Armory members

Subscribe now and save up to 20%


Other ways to buy:
Phone M-F 10am - 6pm (212) 933-5812

Be the first to know about ticket sales and Armory Events by joining our Mailing List.

2015 Season Sponsors: