Pierre Huyghe was born in 1962 in Paris and now lives and works between New York City and Chile. Their most recent solo exhibitions include Copenhagen Contemporary; Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; Sprengel Museum, Hannover; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago; and Tate Modern, London among others. They also participated in international exhibitions, including the Skulptur Projekte Münster; São Paulo Biennial; Manifesta 11 and 2; Istanbul Biennial; Documenta XIII and XI; Sydney Biennale; Venice Biennale; and Whitney Biennial.
Pierre Huyghe is one of the most prominent contemporary French artists, working in a variety of media from sculptures and film to installations and living systems involving a variety of life forms such as plants, bacteria, insects and animals. Huyghe started their career in the late 1980s and early 1990s, back then collaborating with artists such as Philippe Parreno and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster. Over the course of their career, Huyghe has developed a specific artistic practice which elaborates on contradictory and complex relationships between humans and other life forms, and between artist and artwork, questioning the role and place of artwork in a museum and in the outside world.
Two works by the artist are presented at the Baltic Triennial 13. Mixing diverse and significant modes of behaviour, they speak of hybrid and formless identities.
The Host and the Cloud, 2011 like most films by Pierre Huyghe oscillates on a slippery fringe between reality and fiction. The work, with a duration of over two hours, is filmed in a closed museum at the far end of an attraction park in the Parisian outskirts. Conceived as a role play and recorded over the course of a year, it focuses on just three days;, Halloween, Valentine’s Day and May Day, and presents a hypnotic journey on a range of promiscuous, and undefined behavioural models.
Untitled (Human Mask), 2014 was filmed in a devastated location in Japan not far from where the tsunami hit that caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster. A camera floats in an abandoned residential area along an empty street of tumbledown houses. The only human presence here is a warning announcement, repeated at certain intervals by a distant woman’s voice in Japanese. The camera then enters one of the houses.
A documentary about two monkeys working as waiters at a restaurant inspired Huyghe to create the film. The artwork is void of humans and to underline that void is filmed by a drone following a macaque, the sole inhabitant of a deserted and gloomy building. Since there is no real plot the work operates much like a portrait and like The Host and the Cloud blurs the markers between reality and fiction.
Huyghe’s monkey roams the empty house wearing a traditional Japanese Noh theatre mask and wig of human hair in the costume of a girl. It seems lost and increasingly anxious, somehow between a disturbed wild animal and a young and fragile housewife. It performs learned human-like manoeuvres, which are superfluous as there is no one to perform to. The monkey flounces purposelessly as if trying to escape its destiny. No music, just silent steps and the sound of rainfall outside of the house. There are signs of human activity in the house – a cat, dirty dishes, and those scared wide eyes of the animal, which looking at us from behind the mask, seem violently human.