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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The Inscrutable M. Huyghe

Last night I trekked downtown in the rain to hear Pierre Huyghe speak as part of the Public Art Fund’s Tuesday Night Talks.

I’ve been fascinated by Huyghe’s work in recent years, but whoa. His Streamside Day Follies project for Dia a couple years ago? Pretty far out there (see the still at right). How can you not love it, though, that he actually convinced Harvard to pay him to put on a puppet show (starring himself) featuring a puppet show within the puppet show (also starring himself) that has a cameo by Le Corbusier. (If only I had tried the puppet show angle years ago when I was applying for a faculty position there....)

Well, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but Huyghe is as delighfully elliptical in talking about his work as he is in the work itself.

Here are a few of the more choice quotes from his talk.

On L'Expedition Scintillante: A Musical which filled three floors at the Kunsthaus Bregenz: “The whole purpose of the journey was to make this concert for the penguins.” (Incidentally, his Light Box on view now at the Centre Pompidou was the second floor installation for this show. I’ve seen the piece twice now and missed the penguins both times. Maybe nobody told them about the concert?)

On the celebration he created for the Hudson River Valley community in Streamside Day Follies: “It was the custom I had to invent for them to intensify the coefficient of fiction.”

On the Harvard puppet show: “It is a parable expressing the condition of production within a predefined context.”

On his upcoming project commissioned by the Public Art Fund: “We’re going to go to this no-knowledge zone where things have no names, and we’re going to do things down there.” He’ll then “recount this journey” on the ice rink in Central Park.

I’ll make a point to be there with my skates on for this one. And maybe Huyghe will be able to get some of the penguins from the Central Park Zoo to waddle over for the fun too.

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