In Detail: Philippe Parreno’s H {N)Y P N(Y} OSIS - Who Watches Whom: Spectacle and Audience

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

Who Watches Whom - Spectacle and Audience
by Roxana Fabius & Elizabeth Larison, Curatorial Assistants

H {N)Y P N(Y} OSIS is an invitation to cross into the world of spectacle through an alleyway of marquees that invokes the golden years of American theater and cinema. In Parreno’s work, the marquees are brought inside, and the titles and names of movie stars are missing, only their lights and form remain. In this context, the marquees’ announcement of a show elicits a double meaning: referring both to a theatrical or cinematic show, as well as to the exhibition.

Here, the theatrical or cinematic spectacle — in this case the exhibition itself — is an event that exists not just on the screen or stage, but in the space and time of the drill hall: in the movement of the shades, various moments of illumination, improvisation, choreography, and darkness.

H {N)Y P N(Y} OSIS’ immersive experience draws upon the concept of exhibition-as-medium by scripting and anticipating the involvement of the public within the space. By doing so, it creates fictions and fantasies, re-enactments, or hypothetical arrangements, enabling myriad ways to experience the exhibition depending on the placement and perspective of its visitors.

This is exemplified by Bleachers (2015), the functional sculpture inspired by the writings of French metteur-en-scène Jacques Polieri. This artwork enables a rotating view and expanded perspective of the exhibition, allowing for the visitors’ appreciation of the crowds as they cluster and disperse throughout the Drill Hall. Simultaneously, however, Bleachers puts the visitors’ silhouettes on display, rendering them as fundamental elements of the visual composition. It is in this way that visitors on and off the Bleachers become an integral part of the scene to each other, implicating everyone as part of the spectacle.

Within H {N)Y P N(Y} OSIS, the successive events, sounds, and visual engagements create multiple situations that direct our attention, embrace us with the magic, and then break the spell, depending on when and where we are in the exhibition.

Photo: James Ewing

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