Centre Pompidou, Paris
25 September 2013 - 5 January 2014
Review by Lizzie Homersham
A cloud of dry ice, a short downpour, and a sudden smattering of sleet form and fall at intervals into the grey, semi-outdoor paved section of Centre Pompidou’s first floor. This extravagant exercise in climate control, labelled ‘L’Expédition scintillante, Acte 1: Untitled (Weather Score)’ (2002), is visible just beyond the monolithic crag of Parvine Curie’s ‘Mère Anatolica 1’ (1975) at the entrance to Huyghe’s show, instantly showcasing the artist’s penchant for permeable boundaries.
The outdoors is welcomed in again as daylight penetrates through rectangular slits cut into an outer wall. The space is otherwise artificially lit: ‘RSI, un bout de réel’ (2006) comprises intersecting neon circles affixed to the ceiling of a room screening ‘The Host and the Cloud’ (2010), a feature length film in which actors circulate under the influence of sleeping pills or hypnosis, apparently enacting Surrealist desires for dream and reality to be resolved. Perhaps the spirit of ‘Surrealism and the object’, the Pompidou’s concurrent show, is pervading the space of Huyghe’s. Chance encounters are encouraged in both: in Huyghe’s retrospective a second source of artificial light comes from the white overhead grid of ‘Atari Light’ (1999), a kind of ping-pong game that two strangers can play by seizing hold of dangling controls.
Elsewhere, we might see an ice skater take to the black ice stage of ‘L’Expédition scintillante, Untitled, Acte 3’, or cross paths with ‘Human’ (2011’13), the elegant white dog that became the star of Documenta earlier this year. The colour match of the canine’s pink leg with the heap of bright pigment found in the central gallery, or in a crevice between internal walls, is just one instance of Huyghe’s work escaping containment or comprehension as a series of finite, separate things. In similar fashion, a reclining female nude with a beehive for a head escapes her 2D depiction in the film ‘A Way in Untitled’: she reappears, as the life size statue ‘Untitled (Liegender Frauenakt)’ (both 2012), at the far side of the paved grey space in which rain falls.
Huyghe does not stop at challenging the boundaries between his own projects. With ‘Timekeeper’ (1999), he proposes a sort of continuum between the present exhibition and those that have preceded it: this tree stump-like work takes form as a series of rings - old layers of paint exposed by the artist boring into and sanding a section of wall. We are made particularly aware of Mike Kelley’s exhibition having formerly occupied the space. Kelley’s ‘Kandor’ series, along with his Tony Oursler collaboration for ‘The Poetics Project’ 1977’1997 haunt Huyghe’s show as wall labels squeezed between fresh works.
Manga character Annlee emerges meanwhile as the project best adapted to traversing conventional bounds, up to and including death. Jointly purchased in 1999 by Huyghe and Philippe Parreno and later lent among artists including Liam Gillick, she is documented at the Pompidou as both video animation, and a contract declaring the artists’ rights. Supposedly, Annlee died in 2002, her disappearance marked by fireworks. Currently, however, we find her played by actresses working for Tino Sehgal in Philippe Parreno’s ‘Anywhere, Anywhere Out of the World’, a retrospective at Palais de Tokyo. Perversely, for something that began life as a digital file, Anlee is reincarnate, at least until the end of the show.