“I’m interested in contingency. Of what is not predictable. Of what is unknown. I think that has somehow been a core of the work.” Meet one of France’s most critically acclaimed contemporary artists, Pierre Huyghe, whose works move in the field between milieu, simulation, and video.
“I’m not here to address or to explain. To give answers,” says Pierre Huyghe and elaborates: “I would say it’s about perplexity. If there are enough playful and thoughtful ideas taking a sensitive form, I think that is what an artist is doing.” We met the artist while installing the work Variants on a small island in Kistefos, Norway. The work consists of various elements: objects, nature, and video simulation. “I have two milieux. One which is digital, which is a network that generates mutations of the existing elements on the existing elements on the island,” he explains and continues: “Simultaneously you have the physical milieu that has various censors that capture the water level, the wind, the sun, the movement of animals.” Using the AI software Dall-e, among other things, various strange forms have been created inside the simulation. Part of these digital components have been planted in the physical world and have a life on their own: “As a witness, you penetrate the island.”
“The work has its own agency. The milieu is really a milieu that has its own agency and somehow is indifferent to the gaze or to the public.” Pierre Huyghe also shares his thoughts on some of his most iconic work, including the work Untilled from documenta 13. The work took place at the compost side of a park in Kassel, Germany, “which is a place where things transform, change. It’s also a place that is unorganized,” as Huyghe says. “I used it in the same mythology. I increase the mythology by saying, ‘what if I throw elements of history in it? Or elements of fiction?’.” The result was a new milieu which included a statue of a female body with its head covered by a beehive, a dog with a pink leg, trees of Joseph Beuys, and various plants and animals. “You have something that is obviously changing and modifying. You have a contingency. You have unpredictability.”
In the piece ‘Zoodram 2’ (recently acquired by Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, Denmark), the viewer again encounters a new kind of milieu created by Pierre Huyghe. “The animals have been selected for their behavior as I always do. It’s like choosing a character without choosing narration.” Fainted in color and moving so slowly that they seem still, they all have certain instinctual behaviors that unfold in the aquarium: “Each has a particularity that will come back. It’s how to create a situation that has no beginning and no end.” An aquarium can also be viewed in work ‘After Alife Ahead,’ where it’s placed in a torn-up old ice-skating rink. “When I work with environment or milieu, there is no linearity in that regard,” Pierre Huyghe says and continues: “I’m not interested in binarity. I’m more in the queer zone. I’m in the in-between. Things are not equal, but I consider them equally.”
Pierre Huyghe (b. 1962, Paris) lives and works in Santiago, Chile. The exhibition ritual is an encounter with a sentient milieu that generates new possibilities of co-dependence between events or elements that unfold. The exhibition is an entity whose time and space in which it appears are constituents of its manifestation. His works are conceived as speculative fiction and often present as continuity between a wide range of intelligent life, forms, biological, technological, and tangible inert matter that learn, modify and evolve. They are permeable contingent and often indifferent to witnesses. His work is internationally known and presented in various exhibitions worldwide. Huyghe has recently exhibited at Kistefos Museum, Jevnaker, Norway; Luma Foundation, Arles; Serpentine Gallery, London; Metropolitan Museum, New York; Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg. In 2012-2014, a major retrospective of his work traveled from Centre Pompidou (France) to the Ludwig Museum (Germany) and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (USA).
Pierre Huyghe was interviewed by Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen in Kistefos Museum, Norway, in June 2022.
Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard and Kåre Broe
Produced and edited by Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2021
Cover photo: Pierre Huyghe: Untilled (2011-2012)
Living entities and inanimate things,
made and not made.
Commissioned and produced by documenta (13)
with the support of Colección CIAC AC, Mexico;
Foundation Louis Vuitton pour la création, Paris;
Ishikawa Collection, Okayama, Japan
Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling, and Fritz Hansen.
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