Philippe Parreno, VOICES, 2024 / Installation view
Philippe Parreno: VOICES
Feb 28 – Jul 7, 2024
Leeum Museum of Art
Seoul, South Korea

Leeum Museum of Art presents VOICES, the first solo exhibition of the internationally renowned French artist Philippe Parreno to be held in Korea. As the largest survey of the artist to date in Asia, the exhibition provides a comprehensive experience of Parreno’s oeuvre from the nineties to the present. Showcasing the most representative pieces from his thirty-year career, as well as new works created on the occasion of the show, the exhibition spans multiple spaces within the museum, including the outdoor deck, lobby, M2, and Black Box and Ground Gallery.

Philippe Parreno challenges the traditional notion of the artist and refuses to be a producer of objects. By exploring the dynamic relationship between exhibition and artwork, and offering “experiences of time,” he pioneered a revolutionary shift in contemporary art forms of the 1990s. Utilizing the methodologies and vocabulary of different media like radio, television, film, and advanced information technology, he tore down the boundaries between reality and fiction, prompting non-linear temporality and radical changes in narrative structure. Multi-layered and intricately interwoven, his works are and in endless motion, impossible to reduce to a single position or medium. To Philippe Parreno, an exhibition is not just an arrangement of artworks, but a creative act in its own right. His interest lies less in the production of objects than in the forms in which they are displayed and the interactions resulting therefrom. As such, each of his exhibitions becomes a fluid and open platform for perceiving and experiencing time.

The exhibition VOICES offers a holistic artistic experience of emotional and synesthetic choreography centered around “multiple voices,” a theme that consistently emerges as a key element in Parreno’s oeuvre. A voice breathes life into objects and enables their transformation into subjects; it is the very protagonist that drives the narrative of the exhibition. Consider AnnLee’s remarkable journey: when she comes to possess a voice, she transforms from a mere manga character into the subject of her own life. To Parreno, a “voice” is both a specter and an algorithm that presides over the appearance and disappearance of life, as well as an entity that vocalizes fact and fiction.

This exhibition brings together the multiple voices that existed as fragments in the past into a single whole that asks how it may exist here and now. To this end, the artist creates an entirely new voice. The actual voice of actress Bae Doona transforms into a virtual but real one using artificial intelligence. ∂A (2024), a new work born out of a collaboration with the actress, starts from an untraceable and unintelligible murmur and grows over time to become an entity that speaks, as it learns a “new language” created by conlangers. Membrane, also a new work installed on the outdoor deck, may look like a tower, but is, in fact, a cybernetic character with unprecedented cognitive capabilities. It interacts with this voice and language called ∂A, while also controlling every aspect that makes up the exhibition. Equipped with a sensing system that collects all kinds of environmental data, including temperature, humidity, windspeed, noise levels, air pollution and even minute vibrations of the ground, Membrane sends this information into the museum’s interior, while also stimulating and modifying the voice.

This voice oversees the exhibition like a puppet master. And the museum becomes a giant automaton. The lights flicker, the walls move, and the clockwork ticks. The sound of melting snow; the motion of a grand speaker; and projections of light emerge and wander here and there. A synchronized stream of unintelligible language and music overwhelms the space. A video switches on; a firefly appears; a piano starts to play on its own. It’s like a world of magic, but it’s not just an illusion, because the exhibition is operated by a self-contained system, and every element is perfectly under control. Yet the countless variables and chance interactions occurring within this system make it impossible to foresee what will happen next. VOICES, interdependent, just like any living organism, continues its unpredictable evolution.

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