Guest Blogger: Heather Shimmin, architectural photographer

heather met roof 7Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Pierre Huyghe
Every summer, the Metropolitan Museum of Art commissions an artist to create an installation for the roof garden.  This year, the commission went to Pierre Huyghe (pronounced hweeg). The Parisian has also created a nineteen minute film, (Untitled) Human Mask, that can be viewed in Gallery 916 through 9 August 2015. The film follows a mysterious creature in the aftermath of a natural and man-made disaster.heather met roof 13

Describing Huyghe’s work can be challenging and frustrating. It is like trying to describe what salt tastes like without using the word salty.  Information about his projects are never handed to the viewer on a silver platter; they are left to fend for themselves.heather met roof 9.

In an article by Randy Kennedy in the New York Times, Huyghe is described as “one of the most admired and intellectually formidable European artists of his generation.”  His projects are layers of meaning, intellect, and innuendo. He takes the concept of mixed-media to another level entirely, often integrating living creatures and the rhythms of nature into his work.  He collaborated with scientists at Rockefeller University to engineer living replicas of the whimsical, fictional butterflies that obsessive lepidopterist Vladimir Naboko had sketched for a wife, including one with checkerboard wings.  On another project, Huyghe created a grotto-like sculpture based on the interior walls of the intestinal tract as taken from video footage from a camera capsule swallowed by a patient.heatehr met roof 10

Huyghe has been heavily influenced by Raymond Roussel’s 1914 novel “Locus Solus,” about a mad scientist who keeps cadavers who react scenes from their past in a giant aquarium (aquariums are a recurring theme in Huyghe’s work).  Huyghe calls his work Relational Aesthetics, a subset of Conceptualism, which is an “approach to art making that emphasizes participation, social interaction and chance.”

His work seeks to control the viewer’s experience, which is evident in his installation at the Met.  Pavers on the roof have been taken up and moved around, giving the impression of a construction site.  Guests are then required to move about the space with caution and only in areas which are “open to the public.” The centrepiece of exhibition is, not surprisingly, an aquarium.  Inside is a giant piece of Manhattan schist and a slew of tiny sea creatures which will evolve and interact as the summer progresses.  The aquarium is slowly leaking water into the ground, releasing organisms, including worms, into the spaces the cement pavers once occupied.  Puddles are forming and weeds are sprouting.  The outcome of all of this is unknown, which is what Huyghe finds the most intriguing.heather met roof 4



2 thoughts on “Guest Blogger: Heather Shimmin, architectural photographer

  1. I thought the installation left a lot to be desired. I found it to be on the sparse side, and a bit boring. The view from the roof top was incredible.

    Sent from my iPad


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