Born and trained in Paris and now living in New York, Pierre Huyghe is an artist and filmmaker, as well as an occasional philosophy professor, who creates scenarios that explore the borders of fiction and reality. French art critic Nicolas Bourriaud has described him as a researcher, traveler, narrator and organizer of events. His work is at once playful and engagée. Two of Huyghe’s recent projects have garnered the enthusiastic attention of an international audience: a full-length feature film, The Host and the Cloud, presented at Marian Goodman in Paris in early 2011, and the mesmerizing aquariums commissioned by the latest Frieze Art Fair. After taking part in Documenta 13, Kassel, he will have solo exhibitions at Museo Tamayo, Mexico City, in 2012, and Centre Pompidou, Paris, in 2013.
The Host and the Cloud left a lasting mark on Pierre Huyghe’s work. The unexpected range of possibilities offered by the film, composed of three events held at the Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires over a period of several several months, created a special moment in the twenty years or so during which Pierre Huyghe’s work has been taking shape. The complexity of its production had many consequences: for three years, Pierre Huyghe devoted himself to the project more or less full-time, and it is worth noting that he refuses the marketing of fetishes and souvenirs resulting from that venture. During that three-year period of time, only two works have appeared in Huyghe’s rare and controlled output. During the post-production process, a digital character was added to The Host and the Cloud to guide the viewer within the narrative. This digital character was a rabbit.
The rabbit has been summoned many times by the classical writers of fables (Jean de la Fontaine, Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian), and it points to an important, fabular aspect of Pierre Huyghe’s work, which is littered with animals: the stuffed animals of The Golden Fleece (2003); the fawns of Streamside Day Follies (2003); the penguins of The Scintillating Expedition (2002); the bird which places the seed on the concrete of a Le Corbusier building in This is not a Time for Dreaming (2004); penguins, again, in A Journey That Wasn’t (2006); and the live rabbits and dogs let loose in the space where two days of events took place in The Host and the Cloud. Like the fabulists, Huyghe uses them as quasi-characters, not far removed from humans, setting up the dreamlike distance necessary for the invention of an individualized narrative. The absence of morality in Pierre Huyghe’s “fables” points to a period when judgment has been “exchanged,” to use Jean Baudrillard’s term, for an immaterial “other thing.”