Pierre Huyghe’s magical milieu

Pierre Huyghe, Zoodram 4, 2011 (d’après La Muse endormie de Constantin Brancusi, 1910). Collection Ishikawa, Okayama, Japon.

The first time I went to the retrospective exhibition of the work of French artist Pierre Huyghe at the Pompidou Center, a doorkeeper/butler asked for my name. Too surprised to decide if I should or not answer, I gave in… to then hear him announce “Yasmine” in a very loud voice. Nearby visitors looked at me smiling. I thought that the next time I’d go, I’ll say: “nobody” – the next time around though, the persona had disappeared.

Announced like a courtesan entering Versailles’ Hall of Mirror, I got identified in the social theater orchestrated by an invisible puppeteer. I became Jane in a media forest (1) where everything, work of art, props or people, actants and hypertexts, created a space as fluid as water in a fishtank. From a particular angle, for a suspended moment, I saw the mirrored image of the muse of Brancusi’s double, home to a hermit crab, who seemed to be gazing out, reflecting on her fate (See picture above). The curious hybrid shifted slowly, so I went, guided by a change in temperature. The meteorological architecture of the exhibit enables what architect Philippe Rahm calls a “geographical détournement” (Rahm, 2001). Transported elsewhere, beyond the surface of the ice-skating rink where a female dancer was shuffling the air, an electronic sound echoed that of cash registers. It must have been the ice-cold air temperature, with the entertaining tile-matching neon lights fixed to the ceiling, and kids interacting with the connected gaming device. I felt I had moved from Versailles to a supermarket.

Invited in Pierre Huyghe’s magical milieu (von Uexküll, 1934/new edition 2010) I experienced contemporary space which is, as described in Ito’s seminal essay (Ito, 2011), comparable to a media suit, fluid as water (when at room temperature) and connecting.

(1) After Toyo Ito’s essay:  “Tarzans in a Media Forest”