<span class="chapeau">In his work, Pierre Huyghe (born in 1962, lives and works in Paris) blurs the boundaries between reality and fiction, past and present, human and animal realms. His film <i>Untitled (Human Mask)</i> (2014) will be included in the exhibition “Accrochage” at Punta della Dogana.</span> <br><br> <div class="auteur col m-4"> <div class="inner"> <div class="white"> <a class="switch">Text</a><br> <b>Martin Bethenod</b><br> <span>Director of Palazzo Grassi – <br>Punta della Dogana</span> </div> </div> </div> <br><br><br> <div class="clearfix"> <span class="col m-1"> </span><span class="title">Pierre</span><br> <span class="col m-2"> </span><span class="title col">Huygue</span> </div> <div class="clearfix"> <br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>We wander though Fukushima, an abandoned town overgrown with weeds and strewn with wreckage, traces of former human activity. Eventually, we step into a house. It is silent and still, seemingly inhabited by a single occupant; others will appear, furtively, later on. In the dark distance, we can barely make out a face; then, as we come closer, the back of a head, some hair, and a white mask, seen in profile, lit from the left; and finally a hairy paw emerges, before the entire figure reveals itself. It is a monkey, dressed as a schoolgirl and wearing a Japanese Noh mask. This is Fuku Chan, a macaque monkey. He is an Internet celebrity. Go online, and you can find several films shot in the restaurant where he works, clothed and masked, as a waiter. <br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>Pierre Huyghe’s <i>Human Mask</i> follows Fuku Chan for 19 minutes and 7 seconds (almost an entire day, marked by the changes in light and the weather; almost a whole life). It records mechanical gestures, follows the monkey’s attempts—soon interrupted—at positive actions, his sudden accelerations followed by long periods of stasis, and his self-administered caresses. It almost seems as though he were attempting to reassure himself about reality, or to surprise himself. A creeping sensation of vulnerability settles in, of solitude, of incomprehension over what is happening, which is reinforced by a delicate and precise game of visual equilibriums: between inside and out, penumbra and daylight, the smooth and the hirsute, stillness and movement, the presence of nature and its falsified representation. <br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>With <i>Human Mask</i>, Huyghe examines the presence of animals in a world abandoned by men, as he had done in many of his previous works: in <i>Untilled </i>(2012), using an Ibizan hound with a pink paw; with the blind fish of <i>Dia del Ojo </i>(2012), who lost their sight at they adapted to a world without light; or with the spiders and ants furtively occupying the exhibition space in <i>Umwelt</i> (2012)… <i>Human Mask </i>also continues Huyghe’s recurrent investigation of the border between animal and human realms, beginning with the adolescents with wolf or falcon heads in <i>Toison d’or </i>(1993) and continuing with his various figures combining human and animal features (the beehive-headed statue of <i>Untilled</i>, 2010, or the hermit crab inhabiting Brancusi’s <i>Sleeping Muse </i>in <i>Zoodrama 4</i>, 2011). Beyond exploring the question of animality, Huyghe sets out to investigate the limits of humanity, of technology (with the LED-masked characters of <i>The Host and the Cloud</i>, 2010), of fantasy (the friendly yet disturbing monsters of <i>Hello Zombie</i>, 2007), or of cybernetic fiction, not to mention the character of Ann Lee.<br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>Dressed up to resemble humans and to work in their place, Fuku Chan evokes the androids in Philip K. Dick’s novels, an influence often cited by Huyghe: their emotions, dreams, and memories, are they their own or have they been implanted in their systems? Are they aware of their core essence? Are they capable of empathy? Between fiction and reality (according to Dick, “that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away”), <i>Human Mask</i> is a powerful exploration of the melancholy of the almost human.</div>
Pierre HUYGHE<br /><i>Untitled (Human Mask)</i> — 2014 — Film, color, stereo, sound — 19’7’’
Pierre HUYGHE<br /><i>Untitled (Human Mask)</i> — 2014 — Film, color, stereo, sound — 19’7’’
Pierre HUYGHE<br /><i>Untitled (Human Mask)</i> — 2014 — Film, color, stereo, sound — 19’7’’
 

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