Philippe Parreno at the Serpentine Gallery

I literally didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what the Serpentine was showing and as I ran in dodging a downpour I made it into the exhibition space without having so much as read whose work I would be seeing. In the end it transpired it was Philippe Parreno and the two video pieces I saw were good enough to make me entirely reassess my overarching attitude to video art (that it’s fundamentally bollocks) and actually appreciate that there are some good guys out there.

The works were June 8, 1968 and Invisibleboy, both produced in the last couple of years although Parreno has been active since the 80s. June 8, 1968 takes as its starting point the journey of Robert Kennedy’s body – a train journey thoroughly documented by Paul Fursco, whos images of Americans standing and watching the Senator’s final journey have featured in several London exhibitions (as they should because they are amongst the most striking visual images of the twentieth century). It interweaves this documentary ideal with further created poses of waiting, standing, longing … it includes the images shown at the top of this post and builds to something very affecting.

Equally good is Invisibleboy which again plays with documentary realism – in this case a young boy lost in an urban night-time sprawl that carries on around him. But rather like Dryden Goodwin scratching on still images, Parreno subverts the whole thing by having a squiggly artificial creature sneak about in the shadows. This is all accompanied by a swirling soundtrack that implies some sort of resolution is near but in actuality that never arrives and people continue to pass along lost in their own lives – ignorant of both the boy and the creature. The ideas may not be original but the way they have been executed is both striking and exciting. I may go back to see it again.

Sadly even with the rain my lunchtime wasn’t long enough to see the other films in the exhibition but these two alone are worth heading over to Hyde Park for. There are more details here.


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