The Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art presents A Time Coloured Space, a major exhibition by French artist Philippe Parreno, his first in Portugal. Curated by the Director of the Museum, Suzanne Cotter, the exhibition will span all thirteen rooms of the Museum, across two floors, and extending to the Museum’s Auditorium.
A Time Coloured Space is structured on the mathematical model of the fugue, and conceived around the idea of the counterpoint, or ritournelle, a principle, whereby a particular passage is repeated at regular interludes within a musical arrangement to create compositional meaning. Governed by a similar method, A Time Coloured Space is determined not by its ‘objects’, but by the regularity and rhythm of their appearance. The exhibition features some of Parreno’s most emblematic work dating from the 1990s to the present and new works created specifically for the context.
Throughout his practice, Parreno has redefined the exhibition experience by exploring its possibilities as a coherent ‘object’ and a medium in its own right, rather than as a collection of individual works. To this end, he conceives his exhibitions as a scripted space in which a series of events unfolds. Placed within the philosophical framework of Gilles Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition (1968), each of the exhibition’s thirteen rooms is a recurrence of the last, differentiated only by variations in colour and arrangement. By introducing these recurring variables, Parreno takes the ritournelle principle beyond its musical understanding to what Deleuze described as ‘a repetition of the different’. As the past and the future are inscribed into the present, the exhibition becomes an automaton, a factory in which to engineer these variables, and a form of imitation becomes a new invention.
Among the works included are Parreno’s Speech Bubbles (1997 and ongoing), helium-filled balloons in the shape of cartoon speech bubbles. Empty of words, they congregate and hover on the ceiling of the space they inhabit. Also returning is Fraught Times: For Eleven Months of the Year it’s an Artwork and then December it’s Christmas (2008-2016), an ongoing series of aluminium sculptures cast as snow-covered Christmas trees.
More than 200 of Parreno’s ink drawings, created between 2012 and 2016, and the series of screen prints titled Fade To Black will also be on display. A series of light objects: AC/DC Snakes and Happy Ending will also punctuate the space.
A recent addition to the Serralves Museum’s permanent collection, the spectacular light work Quasi Objects: Marquee (cluster) will be installed in the auditorium foyer, signalling the cinema’s presence.
The Auditorium of the Museum will be transformed into a form of cinéma en permanence.
On Friday 3 February, to mark the launch of the exhibition, pianist Mikhail Rudy will perform Shostakovich’s Fugue, No. 24 in D-Minor. For the duration, the composition will be repeated on the Disklavier piano by a computer programme attempting to learn the musical score, in a continued iteration and reprise that will in turn activate lights, a revolving wall, and window blinds that permeate the exhibition’s framework.
‘Philippe Parreno: A Time Coloured Space’ is organized by the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, and is accompanied by a publication written by Adam Thirwell in collaboration with Philippe Parreno and designed by Frith Studio, London.