Text by Francesca Fontanesi

An innovator in the technique of post-production, Pierre Huyghe has always questioned the relationship between the human and the non-human.

Pierre Huyghe: Liminal
Punta della Dogana, Venice
From March 17th to November 24th, 2024



Pierre Huyghe was born in 1962 in Paris. He attended the École Supérieure d’Arts Graphiques and then the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs. In 1995, he orchestrated Mobile TV, a television station broadcasting programs by various artists, for the Institut d’Art Contemporain in Villeurbanne, France, in 1995 and for the Centre d’Art Le Consortium in Dijon in 1997. By the end of the 1990s, he became a true innovator in the technique of post-production, reusing existing mass media at the time, such as films, to create new forms of art: in the triple-screen projection of L’Ellipse (1998), Huyghe slows down an internal cut from Wim Wenders’ 1977 film, The American Friend, and expands it by adding personal footage of the film’s protagonist, Bruno Ganz, playing a scene that the film itself lacks; a walk through the city, from one apartment to another, amidst important phone calls. This extra scene draws attention to the temporal gaps in fictional films, gaps that our imagination fills, and the role of the viewer in completing the narrative artwork. The artist has always questioned the relationship between the human and the non-human and conceives his works as speculative fictions from which emerge other forms of possible worlds: fictions are for him means to access the possible or the impossiblewhat could or could not be. The exhibition conceived by Huyghe in collaboration with curator Anne Stenne at Punta della Dogana, Liminal, presents new significant creations, alongside works from the past ten years, particularly from the Pinault Collection.

“As I start a project, I always need to create a world. Then I want to enter this world, and my walk through this world is the work.”

– Pierre Huyghe

Every investigation is for the French artist an open and ever-evolving structure, a full function of meaning, an experimentation of new systems of interaction. What he seeks in his practice is a social communion of expression and artistic research, the desire to directly engage with realities and communities that permeate a unique relational and interpersonal exchange. Before delving into the art world, which he quickly conquers, Huyghe frequents alternative cultural environments close to anarchic movements and punk aesthetics; urban and social interventions, intrinsic to inherent evolutionary changes, led to an expansion of his experimentation, considering aspects increasingly broad and beyond the mere artistic realm. The techniques employed have been diverse, including photography and video, film, installation, and work on paper and wood. The space itself becomes an object of research, of expression and exhibition, as a means used to bring out new aspects of his reality, and as a tool to narrate common experiences. Since the 1980s, Pierre Huyghe has begun collaborating with various prominent figures to create new performances, analyzing languages that oscillate between strong technical and symbolic values, and reinterpreting practices considered by other artists. At Punta della Dogana, he presents a unique collection of works, the first major collection ever exhibited to date. The entire environment becomes the true medium, recounting a condition in which space and time become integral parts of the work itself.

Populated by inhuman, human, and non-human entities, traversed by natural or artificial phenomena, the exhibition explores, in real time, the conditions that allow different entities to coexist, sometimes even hybridize, without hierarchical distinction.

Every artwork of his is conceived as a sort of speculative fiction in which Huyghe feels obliged and able to unite different forms of intelligence, practice, and thought; every aspect evolves and mutates along with the course of the exhibition itself. Subjectivity is another cornerstone underlying his work, where human and non-human entities are depicted as filled with natural and artificial phenomena that allow the hybridization of different aspects. Alongside these concepts, from this latest collection of works emerges the desire to reveal what lies beyond every logic and human understanding. The perception of reality is distorted, questioned. The construction of other possible realities generates the possibility of interdependence among beings. A current face, that of Pierre Huyghe, which in dissolution transforms into an environment free from every constraint.

Pierre Huyghe, After A Life Ahead, 2017. Photo Ola Rindal © Pierre Huyghe, by SIAE 2023.
Pierre Huyghe, Of Ideal, 2019-ongoing, exhibition view IF THE SNAKE, Okayama Art Summit, 2019. Courtesy the artist, TARO NASU, Marian Goodman Gallery, Hauser and Wirth. Copyright Kamitani Lab/Kyoto. Photo Ola Rindal © Pierre Huyghe, by SIAE 2023.

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