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Pierre Huyghe

This is not a Time for Dreaming, 2004·

Photograph | Digital print on paper

21.5 x 26.5 cm. (x12)


Pierre Huyghe’s works are usually complex, disturbing and fascinating all at once. They combine different information supports that show a host of aspects of human relations and their connection with nature, while examining structures and systems and giving them a strong political component.

This is not a Time for Dreaming is a work that alludes to surrealist artists and utopian projects. And so it is not surprising that anxiety, disappointment, struggle and incomprehension are notions that appear in it. This is not a Time for Dreaming is a project consisting of a video, a puppet show and a series of twelve photographs which act as a storyboard. This is the text that goes with the photographs:

“The University of Harvard wanted to create a department of visual arts that would respond to its aesthetic and intellectual ideals. Through the mediation of Sert, Le Corbusier was commissioned to design the building. The long process of negotiation with the administrative department in relation to the creative process was the origin of a book by Eduard Sekler. Later the artist was invited to do a piece of work in relation to the building. The architect’s turbulent misfortunes were added to his own difficulties in satisfying the expectations of the university.

Sekler’s book contributed to the creation of the libretto of a musical with puppets that presented the two situations in parallel. Each of the protagonists has his own story: Le Corbusier, Sert and Sekler, an abstract figure as representative of Harvard and two exhibition curators, Linda Norden and Scott Rothkopf, the artist and a red bird. Le Corbusier had hopes that the seeds carried naturally by the birds would grow until they covered the terraces of the Carpenter Center with vegetation. That is how a structure covered with vegetation came to be constructed as a theatre to house the exhibition.”

This is not a Time for Dreaming tells two stories, one historical and the other contemporary. The first takes places in 1959, when the University of Harvard contacted the famous architect Le Corbusier to design the Visual Arts Department building. The idea was to create a symbol of the intellectual aspirations of the university. But the project did not go ahead owing to the problems that arose between the architect and the university administration. The building was not completed until 1963, after Le Corbusier’s death.

In 2003, Huyghe was invited to produce a work to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the building. He ran into the same difficulties in carrying out his project as the architect.

The two of them appear in the video and the photographs as puppets in a theatre watched by an audience, defending their projects and fighting a ghostly character, Mr Harvard, who represents the great opposer of their ideas.

In this way, while investigating the origin of the ideas and the stories and the way in which they became part of the collective memory, Huyghe reflects on the nature of art and society and the dynamics of the structures that determine them.

Montse Badia


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