6.00 PM is a brown, beige and cream carpet that fills the entire floor of the room in which it is displayed. Near its centre is a large composition made up of various rectangular shapes in the three different tones, including thinner, linear forms that are the same brown colour as the area of carpet surrounding this pattern. The shapes and colours give the impression that light entering through a nearby window has cast shadows onto the floor. The two lighter brown areas on either side of the brighter cream centre suggest that the window is framed by curtains, through which the light is only partially filtered, while the darker brown linear areas mark the silhouette of the window frame. Despite these impressions, the fact that the carpet is always displayed in a windowless gallery, that the image never changes, and that people can walk across the work and leave marks on its surface, makes it unlikely that viewers would be fooled by the illusion.
6.00 PM is one of five carpet works made by the French artist Philippe Parreno between 2000 and 2006 that feature compositions mimicking the play of light on the floor. This work is made of several pieces of carpet that are inlaid into the arrangement, which ensures that the work can be remade to fit rooms of different sizes. Since it is a carpet, viewers might initially mistake 6.00 PM for a furnishing, rather than an artwork. This is especially likely in instances when it is shown in a room with other works. However, the carpet is likely to look out of place in most modern gallery spaces, which usually have hard floors, and is more suggestive of a domestic or corporate environment.
The work’s title refers to a time of day, implying that the pattern at its centre depicts the play of light and shadow cast at 6 pm. In that it fixes time in space the work draws attention to the temporal and material conditions of the viewing experience, heightened by the subtle but uncanny nature of the illusion. In this way it relates to Parreno’s ongoing engagement with the temporality of exhibitions and in particular to the ways in which time, as well as space, has an effect on visibility. Like a number of his contemporaries from France and elsewhere in Europe, such as Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Pierre Huyghe and Carsten Höller, Parreno has made work that challenges the traditional assumption that visual artworks are static and exhibitions are singular events. For example, his 2009 solo exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, called 8 June 1968–7 September 2009, was presented in a single room that changed every ten minutes by raising and lowering automated window blinds, which allowed a film to be screened in the dark and objects to be seen in the light. 6.00 PM experiments with a similar idea, not only by capturing a fleeting reflection in a fixed form, but also by accruing marks on its surface that register the traces of people over time.
Philippe Parreno, exhibition catalogue, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris 2009.
Dorothea von Hantelmann, ‘30 July 2010–2 October 2010’, Philippe Parreno: Films 1987–2010, exhibition catalogue, Serpentine Gallery, London 2011, pp.85–92.
Supported by Christie’s.