Pierre Huyghe

(b. 1962)

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(1962– )

French multimedia artist, born in Paris. He studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris from 1982 to 1985. His art has consistently challenged ideas of authorship and exhibition in a way that is entertaining as well as thought-provoking. His work was brought together in Tate Modern in 2006 in an exhibition entitled ‘Celebration Park’. It opened with a series of disclaimers in white neon consisting of statements of things which Huyghe did not own, including Snow White and 4.33 (John Cage's silent composition). This theme is taken up by work which engages with the issue of the way in which the individual and collective imagination can be commercially appropriated. There was a video interview with the woman who voiced Snow White for the French version of the Disney animation. She still identified personally with the character, although her work was now in corporate ownership. Huyghe has said ‘In a capitalist system which needs stories, the narrative still circulates but it cannot expand; it is locked, it can be listened to but cannot be told because the narrative belongs to someone as an immaterial moving property—there's a copyright attached to it.’ Together with the artist Philippe Pareno (1964– ) he bought the rights to a manga (Japanese cartoon) character called Annlee, offered her services to a number of other artists, then set her free with a firework display. In 2005 he mounted an expedition to Antarctica to find a mythical albino penguin. The journey was real, the penguin was the product of computer-generated imagery. Huyghe says: ‘There is nothing between reality and fiction. What we call fiction is what we identify as narrative constructions, but reality is something shaped by scripts.’ Huyghe's most popular work is his film This is not a time for dreaming (2004). Enacted by puppets, it tells the tale of the architect Le Corbusier and his difficult relations with Harvard University (represented by a science fiction villain) which had commissioned a building from him.

Further Reading

T. Morton, ‘Space Explorer’, Frieze (June–August 2006)

Subjects: Art.

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