a sort of do-it-yourself detective story

July 12, 2014 Pierre Huyghe Museum Ludwig, Cologne

 

 

by Vincent Schipper and Klara van Duijkeren

 

 

Back in Amsterdam, Klara is thoroughly enthused.  The Pierre Huyghe’s retrospective at the Centre Pompidou has left her with a new perspective on curating.  It is an experience she adamantly wants to share with me.  We need to go to Cologne, to Museum Ludwig. However, Pierre Huyghe in Museum Ludwig cannot be compared with Pierre Huyghe in the Centre Pompidou.  Catalogue-wise they are almost identical, yet something is distinctly different — beyond the obvious: time, space, place and individual.  They are unique works constructed from more than fifty eight permanent pieces and infinite interchangeable extras.  What follows is a re-viewing of Pierre Huyghe in Museum Ludwig Cologne.

 

Trudging down the stairs, and over the noticeably ignored carpet installation, we are stopped by a polite, yet cold mannered man demanding our names.  Leaving our identities at the door, the Announcer, projecting us — by name — into the exhibition hall, binds us into the greater whole.  We are now all pieces on an elongated board of Clue.

 

Should we turn right, left or just keep going straight? The space is divided by bare, unfinished plasterboard; each wall carefully placed.  The floor plan is a Malevich painting extruded into a labyrinth.  All vantage points are carefully curated to limit visibility and to disrupt.  Occasionally, slivers are cut out functioning as peepholes into the adjacent space, allowing for an extended gaze.  Each piece stands alone, isolated, yet the pull of the greater whole is palpable.  The seemingly random placement of walls, and dead corners, manifests into an urge to scrutinise every corner.  There is a nagging fear that something will be otherwise forgotten or overlooked.  Splinters of stories, and tidbits of evidence are scattered within the immense expanse of fragmented space — mostly video-work and the occasional material piece.  The echoing names disrupt our procession through the maze, it is our only real sense of time. Stumbling deeper into the depths, we further incorporate the role of detective into our exhibition persona.  The spectre of a dog — Human — weaves through the space, and the LED mask of Player floats in and out of installations.  Everyone and everything is suspect; even the annoying clatter of other visitors.

 

It is not often that you walk into a space and feel a need to scrutinise every detail; even a roughly drilled hole in a wall, or a door left ajar.  In this world of Pierre Huyghe, everything is everything.  Works interrelate, objects and motifs reoccur on different displays and at times materialise in the physical space.  Everything planned and unplanned contributes to a specific condition.  This makes the experience so thoroughly unnerving. There is a fascinating sense that we are in a constant tug of war, trying to keep a balance with the unavoidable Kuleshov effect.

 

Perhaps the most representative piece is #15, This is not a Time for Dreaming.  The film is described as ‘an allegory on the conditions of production and the formation of an idea in a given situation’.  A screen is embedded half a meter into one of the wall surfaces. It is best viewed from the built-in white bench in front of the screen. From any other angle, the peripheries of the screen fall away, hidden by the extruded wall surface. The story played out on screen put aside, the display presents the visitor with a complex set of relations between them and the process of perspective and story making.  The relations between those cast in the film are repeatedly reconstructed, as puppets become puppet masters and puppet masters become puppets.  A wonderful work in itself, placed within the greater context, it represents the mechanisms at play within Pierre Huyghe in Museum Ludwig Cologne.

 

Having reached the farthest end of the space, we begin our return.  The meanings of each piece have changed as our points of reference shift.  We are confronted by the formation of our ideas in this given situation. We leave behind a self-contained world in a constant process of construction and deconstruction.  Stepping out of the Museum Ludwig, we ask each other ‘did you see what was behind the door that was left ajar?’.  Fall of 2014, the exhibition will travel to the LACMA (Los Angeles), a new context, a new situation, a new work.

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