These helium-filled balloons create striking installations

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Black), Louis Vuitton Foundation
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Black), mylar balloons, helium, black ribbon, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, Louis Vuitton Foundation
Photo: Louis Vuitton Foundation/fondationlouisvuitton.fr

About Philippe Parreno

Philippe Parreno likes to work across different mediums. As a result, throughout his career that has spanned decades, he has been able to blur the lines between film, photography, documentaries, and various other types of media. He has built up an interest over the years that has allowed him to distort the established boundaries that exist between real-time and the cinematic impression of time passage.

Philippe Parreno portrait
Portrait of Philippe Parreno

Parreno’s speech bubbles

Speech Bubbles, created in 1997, consists of massive cartoonish 3D speech bubbles that had been trapped against the ceiling of the gallery. Unmarked and floating in the gallery space, the speech bubbles have been filled with helium to make them weightless and also enable them to congregate and drift in one area.

Analysis

Parreno designed his Speech Bubbles to hover on the ceiling of the space that they occupied creating a massive cloud with the intention of paying less attention to the architecture and more attention to the story. This philosophy and line of thought are completely in line with Parenno’s legacy of transforming gallery and museum spaces.

Additionally, the cloud that is created by the speech bubbles helps to change the nature of the space in which they are contained. By including them in the gallery, Parenno automatically creates a high-tech environment that is almost futuristic, managing to successfully link the present with the future.

Audiences turned into protagonists

Since the bubbles are also unmarked, Parreno was inviting visitors to inject meaning into them. As you may already know, speech bubbles are commonly used in comic books and cartoons to allow words and conversations to be understood. In this sense, the bubbles are frozen and empty without words or thoughts. As such, it is up to the attendee to fill them with meaningful language and in doing so, Parreno successfully turns audiences into protagonists that have the ability to control where the conversation goes.

Influenced by Andy Warhol?

According to some critiques, Parreno was also paying homage to the Silver Clouds which was created by Andy Warhol and exhibited back in 1966 in a New York gallery. However, while Warhol’s balloons were always in silver (and not speech bubbles at all), his were designed to defy density and gravity. Parreno’s speech bubbles, on the other hand, were designed to be filled with imagination.

Conclusion

This post-modern perspective of contemporary art, which Parenno shares with many other successful artists such as Warhol, helps to explain why Parreno’s bubbles are an asset that introduces audiences to new ways of inhabiting and exploring the world.

Black version

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Black), Louis Vuitton Foundation, photo Marc Domage
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Black), mylar balloons, helium, black ribbon, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, Louis Vuitton Foundation
Photo: Marc Domage/fondationlouisvuitton.fr

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Black), Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto, 2017
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Black), mylar balloons, helium, black ribbon, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto, 2017
Photo: Andrea Rossetti/serralves.pt

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Black), Louis Vuitton Foundation, photo Marc Domage (detail)
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Black) (detail), mylar balloons, helium, black ribbon, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, Louis Vuitton Foundation
Photo: Marc Domage/fondationlouisvuitton.fr

Blue version

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Blue), A Time Coloured Space, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Fundação de Serralves, Porto, 2017, Photo Andrea Rossetti
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Blue), mylar balloons, helium, black ribbon, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, A Time Coloured Space, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Fundação de Serralves, Porto, 2017
Photo: Andrea Rossetti/serralves.pt

Fuchsia version

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Fuchsia), Art Basel Miami Beach 2015, Esther Schipper 1
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Fuchsia), mylar balloons, helium, black ribbon, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, Art Basel Miami Beach 2015, Esther Schipper

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Fuchsia), Art Basel Miami Beach 2015, Esther Schipper
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Fuchsia), mylar balloons, helium, black ribbon, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, Art Basel Miami Beach 2015, Esther Schipper

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Fuchsia), Art Basel Miami Beach 2015, Esther Schipper
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Fuchsia), mylar balloons, helium, black ribbon, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, Art Basel Miami Beach 2015, Esther Schipper

Gold version

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Gold), 2009, Gold Mylar foil (PET foil out of biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate), helium, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 2010
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Gold), 2009, Gold Mylar foil (PET foil out of biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate), helium, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 2010

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Gold), 2009, Gold Mylar foil (PET foil out of biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate), helium, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 2010 photo Denis Mortell
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Gold), 2009, Gold Mylar foil (PET foil out of biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate), helium, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 2010
Photo: Denis Mortell/gladstonegallery.com

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Gold), 2009, photo Stefanie Grätz
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Gold), 2009, Mylar foil (PET foil out of biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate), helium, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable
Photo: Stefanie Grätz/timeout.com

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Gold), A Time Coloured Space, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Fundação de Serralves, Porto, 2017 Photo Andrea Rossetti
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Gold), 2009, Mylar foil (PET foil out of biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate), helium, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, A Time Coloured Space, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Fundação de Serralves, Porto, 2017
Photo: Andrea Rossetti/serralves.pt

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Gold), Yuz Museum, Shanghai, 2018
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Gold), Mylar foil (PET foil out of biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate), helium, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, Yuz Museum, Shanghai, 2018
Photo: Gucci/vogue.com

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Gold), 2009, Gold Mylar balloons, helium, Art Basel 2015
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Gold), 2009, Mylar foil (PET foil out of biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate), helium, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, Art Basel 2015

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Gold)
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Gold), 2009, Mylar foil (PET foil out of biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate), helium, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, Art Basel 2015
Photo: Andrea Rossetti/serralves.pt

Green version

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Green), 2015, 1,500 Mylar balloons, helium, mould of balloons, certificate, 68.0 × 109.0 × 25.0 Size (cm), Hong Kong Art Basel 2016
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Green), 2015, 1,500 Mylar balloons, helium, mould of balloons, certificate, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, Hong Kong Art Basel 2016
Photo: Pilar Corrias/pilarcorrias.com

Grey version

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Grey), A Time Coloured Space, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Fundação de Serralves, Porto, 2017 Photo Andrea Rossetti
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Grey), mylar balloons, helium, black ribbon, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, A Time Coloured Space, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Fundação de Serralves, Porto, 2017
Photo: Andrea Rossetti/serralves.pt

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Grey) (foreground), 1997
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Grey) (foreground), 1997, mylar balloons, helium, black ribbon, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable
Photo: Olivier Malingue/oliviermalingue.com

Red version

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Red), A Time Coloured Space, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Fundação de Serralves, Porto, 2017
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Red), mylar balloons, helium, black ribbon, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, A Time Coloured Space, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Fundação de Serralves, Porto, 2017

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Red), 2012, ten mylar balloons and red net, installation dimensions variable
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Red), 2012, ten mylar balloons and red net, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable

Silver version

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Silver), 2009, From November 5 until they fall down ..., Castello di Rivoli, Museum of Contemporary Art, Rivoli, Turin, 2010, Enea Righi Collection
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Silver), 2009, From November 5 until they fall down …, silver mylar foil (PET foil out of biaxially oriented polyethylene terephthalate), helium, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, Castello di Rivoli, Museum of Contemporary Art, Rivoli, Turin, 2010, Enea Righi Collection
Photo: Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte/fondazionecologni.it

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Silver), 2009 (on ceiling; background) Silver Mylar foil (PET foil out of biaxially oriented polyethylene terephthalate), helium, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2009
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Silver), 2009 (on ceiling; background), Silver mylar foil (PET foil out of biaxially oriented polyethylene terephthalate), helium, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2009
Photo: Jean-Claude Planchet/estherschipper.com

Transparent version

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Transparent), A Time Coloured Space, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Fundação de Serralves, Porto, 2017 Photo Andrea Rossetti 2
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Transparent), mylar balloons, helium, black ribbon, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, A Time Coloured Space, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Fundação de Serralves, Porto, 2017
Photo: Andrea Rossetti/serralves.pt

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles (Transparent), A Time Coloured Space, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Fundação de Serralves, Porto, 2017 Photo Andrea Rossetti 1
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles (Transparent), mylar balloons, helium, black ribbon, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, A Time Coloured Space, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Fundação de Serralves, Porto, 2017
Photo: Andrea Rossetti/serralves.pt

Other photos

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles, A Time Coloured Space, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Fundação de Serralves, Porto, 2017 Photo Andrea Rossetti
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles, mylar balloons, helium, black ribbon, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, A Time Coloured Space, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Fundação de Serralves, Porto, 2017
Photo: Andrea Rossetti/serralves.pt

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles, A Time Coloured Space, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Fundação de Serralves, Porto, 2017 Photo Andrea Rossetti
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles, mylar balloons, helium, black ribbon, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, A Time Coloured Space, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Fundação de Serralves, Porto, 2017
Photo: Andrea Rossetti/serralves.pt

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles, A Time Coloured Space, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Fundação de Serralves, Porto, 2017 Photo Andrea Rossetti
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles, mylar balloons, helium, black ribbon, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, A Time Coloured Space, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Fundação de Serralves, Porto, 2017
Photo: Andrea Rossetti/serralves.pt

Philippe Parreno - Speech Bubbles, 1997, FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais, photo Emmanuel Watteau
Philippe Parreno – Speech Bubbles, 1997, mylar balloons, helium, black ribbon, each balloon: 109 x 68 x 29 cm, dimensions variable, FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais
Photo: Emmanuel Watteau/lescollectionsdesfrac.fr

All photos: Philippe Parreno/estherschipper.com unless otherwise noted.

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