Human Mask is a bachelor rite.
A monkey wearing a mask of a young woman, trained as a servant; unconscious actor of a human labor and a drone; unmanned camera, programmed to perform tasks, inhabit the same landscape of Fukushima, just after the natural and technological disaster.
The monkey, left alone, executes, as an automaton, the gesture it had been trained to do, in a pointless pattern of repetition and variation.
Trapped inside a human representation, it became its sole mediator.
Sometimes enacting the role of a servant, sometimes inoperative, endlessly waiting, subject to boredom, left between instruction and instinct.
Behind the mask, a descendant of a common ancestor, in front of it a drone, a human’s natural extension. Human Mask suggests a collapse between both biological and cultural distinctions.
– Pierre Huyghe
Pierre Huyghe is renowned for making art that challenges the conventions of the exhibition, exploring the possibilities of its dynamic experience. In the artist’s words, he constructs “time-based situations as a set of circumstances and conditions in which emergence, rhythm and variable are indeterminate and exist beyond our presence.” This exhibition is the New England premiere of his recent film Untitled (Human Mask) (2014). Set in the landscape of manmade devastation that surrounds Fukushima, Japan, the film confronts us with an eerie reflection of the tenuous divisions between human and animal.
The enigmatic moments of the film may be afterimages of the Anthropocene – the proposed name for our ecological age where humankind has become a force that permanently changes the planet. Poignantly confronting the sublime scale of nuclear cataclysm, the human-animal behaviors convey apocalyptic or perhaps redemptive overtones. Are the animal’s gestures the last remaining relics of chauvinism or of human civilization in general — bellwethers of a shift away from the anthropocentrism and disparities that haunt our world?
About the artist
Born in Paris, Pierre Huyghe lives and works in New York. He has received major solo presentations at numerous institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Ludwig Museum, Centre Georges Pompidou, Tate Modern, Dia Center for the Arts, Van Abbemuseum, and the Renaissance Society. He has also been included in numerous international biennials including the 7th & 14th Istanbul Biennials, the 2008 Sydney Biennial, the 47th, 48th, 49th , 50th, & 52nd Venice Biennales, the Liverpool Biennial, São Paulo Biennial, Whitney Biennial, MANIFESTA 2 & 11, and DOCUMENTA 11 & 13.