Walking through the new Pierre Huyghe retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which opens this weekend after traveling to LACMA from the Centre Pompidou, is an enigmatic and immersive experience. The entire Resnick Pavilion has been transformed into a postapocalyptic wonderland full of confounding objects and stunning installations on black stone floors, awash with dim ceiling lights and a general sense of doom and gloom.
As you enter the exhibition, a suit-clad attendant calls your name, announcing your arrival. But no grand entrance awaits you: instead, the first galleries are dark and nearly empty. The walls pitch at sharp, discordant angles, exposing the steel frame latticeworks within. They are coated in fireproof tiles, as if the plaster has simply melted away. Several videos are projected on gallery walls, and fur coats lie in a few corners. In others, ferns sprout from holes in the floor.
It would be impossible to describe the scope of the entire exhibition. The works are displayed without any didactics or labels, and LACMA produced no expository statement about the meaning of Huyghe’s work. Instead, visitors will run happenstance into a rink of black ice, a reclining marble figure with a live beehive head, a whirring snow machine, and a kind albino dog named Human. Other works may be more familiar: Brancusi’s Sleeping Muse submerged in a tank and serving as a lobster’s shell, or Huyghe’s own levitated mass, a porous boulder floating in a gigantic tank of water, which seems to mock Michael Heiser’s Levitated Mass (visible through the glass back walls of the gallery).
Pierre Huyghe will be on view until February 22. It suffices to say it must be experienced in person, slowly. The artist worked closely with LACMA’s curators and installation team to produce a truly immersive and tactile experience. Dress warmly–you may just feel a chill.