‘Precognition’: Pareno’s Marilyn in Paris

Philippe Parreno - Marilyn

Artist Philippe Pareno‘s 2012 video installation,, set in Marilyn’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel suite is now on display as part of an exhibition, ‘Anywhere, Anywhere Out of the World’, at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, reports The Guardian‘s Adrian Searle:

“Why the tears? My own moment came when watching Parreno’s 2012 film Marilyn. Monroe’s voice, recreated by computer, takes us on a tour of the hotel suite where she lived in the late 1950s. What Marilyn sees, the camera sees. We watch through her eyes. Sunlight falls into the room. Rain beats at the window. Sometimes the camera swerves along with Marilyn’s frantic glances, her growing sense of hysteria and entrapment. Her eyes snag on the corners of things, the light glancing cruelly on polished surfaces. The studied normality of the room becomes a prison. The cushions, too perfectly arranged at either end of a sofa, look like a dumb rebuke. Her solitude seems terrible. The telephone rings but goes unanswered.

Towards the end, the camera retreats from the window, gliding between the occasional tables, the slipper chairs, the lilies in the vase. The camera’s tracks appear, then some bulky electronic equipment, as we back off, revealing the room as a movie set with no one in it. As the film ends, lights go up on the other side of the screen where the film has been projected, to reveal a huge snowdrift beyond. The temperature plummets. The sound of the rain we heard in the film is unabated.

This moment is somehow intensely moving. We are in a set too, just as Marilyn was. What is this subterranean drift of real snow in the Palais de Tokyo’s basement? Ice in the soul? Death? Are we in Marilyn’s mind or is she in ours? I begin to notice other piles of snow around the auditorium, like the shovelled-up slush you see on winter New York sidewalks.

When you buy a ticket for the show you get given a DVD of Marilyn. It can only be played once, because the dvd erases itself as you watch it, leaving you with a memory of something seen that can’t be recaptured. The DVD is called Precognition.”

Parreno’s Marilyn Unveiled

Philippe Parreno has talked about his new video installation, now on display at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland.

“Why did you choose to make a film about Marilyn? 

Philippe Parreno: It started with a little book that a friend sent me of fragments from her notebooks—and what I liked was her handwriting.

So you were attracted by her words and her writing, and not her face or her image. 

The book was published because this year people are celebrating her death, and in my work I am interested in celebration. I was interested in the idea of celebrating a dead person, of trying to portray a ghost. Why are ghosts interesting? Because they are unfinished, heterogenous. Marilyn Monroe represents the first time that the unconscious killed the person—her image killed her. So we had to use an image to bring her back. The film is the portrait of a phantom incarnated in an image. Or, to use a neologism, an attempt to produce a “carnated” image.

The film is almost the opposite of your Zidane film, in which one person is scrutinised for 90 minutes. Marilyn is shot from her point of view, but you never see her: you see her writing and hear her voice, but these are generated by machines. 

Yes, there is an uncanniness to the whole mise-en-scène…the camera becomes her eyes looking around the room.

Your fictitious evocation of Marilyn’s room at the Waldorf Astoria is also very cinematic. 

The idea of cinema as exhibition is another aspect. The room at the Astoria that I have recreated is basically an exhibition space, so when you enter the room at the Beyeler, you will have the feeling that you are entering two exhibition spaces, one containing the other.”

Read interview in full at The Art Newspaper

Philippe Pareno’s Fragments of Marilyn

The artist Philippe Pareno – best known for his 2006 video, Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait – has recreated a new work about Marilyn, inspired by the book Fragments, and to be unveiled in Switzerland this summer, reports The Art Newspaper:

“The ghost of the American icon Marilyn Monroe haunts a new video by the artist Philippe Parreno, which is due to be shown at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel this summer (10 June-30 September). In the work, we see the world through Monroe’s eyes as she looks around her Waldorf Astoria hotel suite and sits at her desk to write. Parreno has recreated the room in detail, down to the wallpaper.”