Pierre Huyghe: Human Mask

16 January - 5 March 2015

Untitled (Human Mask) is a 19-minute film that opens with footage of a deserted Fukushima in the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami. In the scenes that follow, a macaque monkey — trained as a waitress and wearing the mask of a young woman — appears alone in an empty Japanese restaurant. Waiting amid the dystopian setting for her moment to perform, the monkey seems trapped within her defunct routine, forced to enact the human condition.

Pierre Huyghe (born 1962, Paris) is a major figure in the international contemporary art scene. Taking the exhibition and its ritual as an object, he works to change the paradigms of this encounter by exploring the dynamic possibilities embedded within it. He constructs time-based situations, self-generating networks, and living systems that exist according to their own rhythms and are indifferent to our presence. Since the mid-1980s, he has researched the architecture of the incomplete, directed a puppet opera, founded a temporary school, established a pirate television station, staged celebrations, scripted scenarios, made films, produced biotopes, bought the rights to a cartoon character, and journeyed to Antarctica in search of a mythical penguin. The concepts of “freed time” and “the open present” in which anything can happen are central to his work.


Work in the exhibition:


Pierre Huyghe

Untitled (Human Mask), 2014

Film, colour, stereo, sound, 2:66

Running time: 19 minutes 

Courtesy Hauser & Wirth, London, Marian Goodman, New York, Esther Schipper, Berlin, Anna Lena Films, Paris. Courtesy the artist