Philippe Parreno: Anywhen at Turbine Hall, Tate Modern
The grandly industrial space of the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall is one of the biggest installation art sites in the world. Filling the cavernous space is a daunting task, especially after the museum’s much-discussed £260 million overhaul and extension. French artist Philippe Parreno rises to the challenge, albeit perhaps not as spectacularly as some of his predecessors.
This year’s Hyundai Commission utilises video, sound, light and, unusually, helium-filled fish balloons to create an immersive experience. The installation changes constantly, reacting to the time of day and developing over the six months that it will be in place. The result is that no two visits will be the same. These changes are partly controlled by data collected from a colony of living yeast being nurtured in the corner of the hall, providing a strange synthesis between the electronic and the organic.
In Anywhen, Parreno wants to encourage viewers to experience the piece in their own way and on their own terms. There’s a carpet on the floor, so that visitors can linger and even lie down if they want to. The mood in the room shifts easily from contemplative (listening to extracts of classical music) to fun (playing with the helium fish), and back again. Parreno’s message is that there’s no right way to experience his work.
Since the addition of the Tate Modern’s giant Switch House extension, the Turbine Hall has become a hub for the museum, providing an impressive entrance at ground level and two crossing points several stories up. Parreno’s installation turns it into the beating heart of the whole institution, using modern technology to draw in visitors and circulate them around the building.
The visual and audio complexity of Anywhen perhaps make it less initially striking than previous stunningly simple installations by artists such as Ai WeiWei and Olafur Eliasson. However, if visitors take a moment to linger, they will soon find themselves entranced by Parreno’s ever-shifting environment.
Philippe Parreno: Anywhen is at Turbine Hall, Tate Modern from 4th October 2016 until 2nd April 2017, for further information visit here.