Philippe Parreno | Wallpaper | By Tom Seymour
When Philippe Parreno was a teenager, he and his friends would sneak their way through the back door of an adult movie theatre in one of the seedier parts of Échirolles, a rough suburb of Grenoble, southern France. The backstreet XXX dive was called Cinema Permanente, because porn played all day, all night.
At a public talk at the 2019 International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), Parreno bashfully admits that watching the illicit movies acted as inspiration. In the dark, as the images writhed and morphed without sense of beginning, middle and end, so he formed his idea of what art should be. ‘We were always so alert, because we were scared of getting caught,’ he remembers. ‘But my sense of time became warped in the movie theatre. I started to think a permanent cinema is a beautiful idea.’
Parreno is here to present his new feature film, No More Reality Whatsoever, a combination of 20 years of disparate footage taken from dozens of art projects and edited together to create a ‘film of films, a seance of cinema’. The artist, who is 55, has the words ‘do so’ tattooed on his left wrist, a reference to the hypnotherapist Milton Erickson. He is soft-spoken, drinks tea over coffee, is dressed as if he might leave the cultured environs of the film festival for a quick hike along the canals of Rotterdam, and has a dry, self-deprecating sense of humour…