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>> Interview: William Kentridge
>> The Legend of Two Islands: Pierre Huyghe
>> Game with Reality: Art and Theater
>> On Stage: Art, Space and Orchestration

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The Legend of Two Islands:
A conversation between Pierre Huyghe and Cheryl Kaplan




Shooting for "A Journey That Wasn't", Central Park, October 2005
©Copyright Cheryl Kaplan 2005. All rights reserved.

For his film "A Journey That Wasn’t," the French artist Pierre Huyghe transformed an ice skating rink in the middle of New York City into a chunk of Antarctica – complete with artificial icebergs and penguins. The premiere is scheduled for the opening of the Whitney Biennial 2006. "The Journey of the Penguins" in Midtown Manhattan? Not in the least, because Huyghe is concerned in his fantastic excursions with the assertion and reconquering of identities. Cheryl Kaplan visited him and his camerawoman Maryse Alberti on location in Central Park.


Pierre Huyghe, Central Park, New York, October 2005
©Copyright Cheryl Kaplan 2005. All rights reserved.


After eight days of rain, Central Park is looking like the Mekong Delta. This isn’t exactly what Pierre Huyghe envisioned when he decided to use New York’s Wollman Ice Rink as the setting for part two of A Journey That Wasn’t. Huyghe’s crew is hard at work maneuvering three Sony 900 high-definition cameras and fake icebergs. There’s also a forty-piece orchestra led by composer Joshua Cody. Everything is in plastic, including the audience-extras and the ice rink, which is covered in a black tarp.



Shooting for "A Journey That Wasn't", the orchestra, Central Park, October 2005
©Copyright Cheryl Kaplan 2005. All rights reserved.





Deutsche Bank, the presenting sponsor of A Journey That Wasn’t, will follow this complex initiative to the 2006 Whitney Biennial. In collaboration with Whitney curators Chrissie Isles and Philippe Vergne, Public Art Fund Director Tom Eccles has organized the Central Park episode. But the story begins in February 2005 as Pierre Huyghe and a small crew set out from the Port of Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego, the southeast point of Argentina, to Antarctica in an extremely high-tech boat searching for a rare albino penguin. A Journey That Wasn’t is an actual journey, an event, a two-part film and an installation.

The work of the artist Huyghe, born 1962 in Paris, ranges from events and installations to films. His work has been seen at the Venice Biennale in 2001 and at the Guggenheim in New York, where he won the prestigious Hugo Boss prize in 2002. His 2006 exhibitions include the ARC, Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, and the Tate Modern in London.




Shooting for "A Journey That Wasn't", Central Park, October 2005
©Copyright Cheryl Kaplan 2005. All rights reserved.

CHERYL KAPLAN: In 2002, for Miami Basel, you created a project with a souvenir, Annlee, an anime character, and even bought the copyright for her together with the artist Philippe Parreno.

PIERRE HUYGHE: We bought the copyright and it was used by several artists to give different voices to this sign Annlee. Then we removed this sign from representation, letting the sign have its own copyright. I can’t even use it myself. Annlee could come back as a song or a book, but not as an image.




Pierre Huyghe, One Million Kingdoms, 2001.
Video installation with sound, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
©Copyright Pierre Huyghe 2004. All rights reserved

Your projects often focus on a transfer of power from one character to another. The other day we spoke about how tourists bring back items from abroad with the hope that these souvenirs will give them a piece of that culture. And here you are in Central Park, working on part two of your Antarctica film, A Journey That Wasn’t, and you’ve relocated a rare albino penguin from the Antarctic to New York.

PH: I’m interested in translation and movement and corruption from one world to another. I have doubts about exoticism, this fascination for bringing an "elsewhere" here, believing that "there" is "here." Elsewhere always remains a story: to bring it back, you have to create an equivalent.



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