Collateral Damage?

BY Katrina Kufer / May 24 2017 / 16:03 PM

For the 57th Venice Biennale’s official collateral event support, Espace Louis Vuitton shows French artist Pierre Huyghe

Collateral Damage?
Image courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York/Paris
Pierre Huyghe. Still from A Journey That Wasn't. 2005. Super 16mm film and HD video transferred to HD, video, colour, sound. 21 minutes 41 seconds.

Despite the polarising effect of Huyghe’s largely video-based works, Espace Louis Vuitton has initiated a solo presentation of the artist’s works that centres around his movie A Journey That Wasn’t (2005). As part of their Hors-les-murs programme to reintroduce limited or unseen works from the foundation, the trio of Huyghe works opens in tandem with the 57th Venice Biennale in order to maximise on the foundation's desire for accessibility to the arts. Creature (2005-11) and Silence Score (1997) round out the carefully curated selection of works that tackle narrative, fiction and fugitive memory.

A Journey That Wasn’t stems from Huyghe’s research and collaboration with artists and scientists on an expedition in the Antarctic with the goal of locating a new island formed by melting polar ice caps where “an albino penguin should live.” Set aboard the Tara, a ship belonging to explorer Jean-Louis Etienne, it is formulated into two segments: the expedition, and then an aural interpretation of the island’s topography performed by a symphony orchestra on a New York ice rink. Through this juxtaposition, the audience is subjected to the clearly oppositional universes of unspoiled nature versus spectacularised urban society.

Creature complements the central work as it manifests the solitary penguin in the form of a small fiberglass bird sculpture with synthetic fur and sound. “It has a unique intuition, far away, in an unreachable land where he/she nearly disappears in the surrounding,” explained Huyghe of the work. The third piece, Silence Score, speaks to the musical elements and strives to disrupt habits of perception through atmospheric and naturally occuring sound instead of manufactured noise. Consisting of four annotated scores, including the imperceptible sounds of 4’33’’ (Silence) (1952) by John Cage, work to embody Cage’s concept playing a few minutes of silence from a note-less score in order to focus on the audible ambient noise of the environment.

Since the 1980s, Huyghe’s works have adopted a surreal, and occasionally overly abstract, narrative in his attempts to experimentally redfine “format”. Endeavouring to move visitors away from “anthropocentric” perspectives and towards the relationships with the intangible and the environment, this exhibition fits right in – a multi-disciplinary and hybrid approach that draws from film, science fiction, music and history.

Pierre Huyghe runs 10 May-26 November at Espace Louis Vuitton, Venice, Italy. For more information visit