The Merging of Art and Life
Pierre Huyghe Awarded the Roswitha Haftmann Prize
||His art biotope
in the Karlsaue was one of the highlights of the last documenta.
Throngs of visitors streamed by the psychotropic plants, bees, and
scampering dogs in Pierre Huyghe’s surreal garden. Untilled,
the title of the documenta piece, is typical for Huyghe’s more recent
projects, in which art and life merge to form an inseparable whole.
Now, the 1962-born Frenchman has been awarded Europe’s highest-endowed
prize for his ambitious work: on May 16, 2013, he will be presented
with the Roswitha Haftmann Prize in the Kunsthaus Zurich.
Huyghe became known for his technically elaborate works, such as the film A Journey that Wasn’t (2006), which was funded by Deutsche Bank.
The first part of the project was an expedition to Antarctica, during
which Huyghe filmed rare albino penguins. The setting for the second
part was the ice skating rink in New York’s Central Park, where fog
machines, artificial icebergs, penguin figures, and a live orchestra
accompanied a musical version of the journey. Over the past several
years, Huyghe’s work has become far more direct. Increasingly, he
creates settings in which art and life merge, for instance at the
documenta and in the film The Host and The Cloud
(2009-2010), in which an empty museum building becomes a temporary
habitat for actors whose performances oscillate between orchestration
and spontaneous action as they play with puppies, become hypnotized,
take drugs. The whole thing ends in a mass orgy. The film of the action
leaves the true nature of what we see open—in the end, it remains
unclear whether it’s art or “real life” arising out of an artificial
situation. This blurring of boundaries between reality and fiction is
the essence of Pierre Huyghe’s works.
The Roswitha Haftmann Prize was founded on the initiative of gallery dealer Roswitha Haftmann
(1924-1998), whose foundation has been awarding the prize to
outstanding contemporary artists since 2001. Among the winners are Douglas Gordon and Jeff Wall, both of whom had an exhibition at the Deutsche Guggenheim, as well as Fischli & Weiss, Sigmar Polke, Maria Lassnig, and Mona Hatoum, all of whom are represented in the Deutsche Bank Collection with numerous works.