In his works Pierre Huyghe employs a wide variety of methods and techniques to investigate reality and, above all, situations where, as if folding back on itself, it produces dark zones converging with fiction.
These can include the creation of a festival, an intervention in a public space, the publication of a magazine, or the production of a film. Exhibitions in museums or galleries can also provide an occasion for experimenting with new systems of interaction, based on open structures capable of functioning as new generators of meaning. In the same manner, rejecting all closure, Huyghe often seeks out collaboration with other artists, or even entire communities, convinced that artistic production occurs in the truth of interpersonal relationships and social dialogue.
The succession of events that led the artist to create A Journey That Wasn’t, 2006, a film in the collection of the Castello, includes an analysis of the basic principle according to which fiction can be a necessary expedient for explaining reality, making possible the acceptance of what otherwise is considered not credible. Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, who develops this concept in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, Huyghe set out to investigate the conditions related to the birth of a story. Similar to the tale’s protagonist, the artist headed toward Antarctica, after learning that in the polar region, global warming was exposing still unexplored lands, perhaps inhabited by animals with unexpected mutations. The film describes the sailboat journey made by Huyghe and a group of artists, focusing on their encounter with a new island, which included the fleeting appearance of an albino penguin. During the editing process, the sequences set at the South Pole were alternated with those of a musical performance in Central Park in New York City. The preparation of the film also entailed the collaboration of a composer and a group of musicians, commissioned by the artist to create a musical passage that would comprise the sound equivalent of the topography of the island he saw during the expedition. Intentionally positioned at the boundary between documentary reality and narrative fiction—including aspects that for the most part defy unambiguous explanations A Journey That Wasn’t reaffirms the possibility of invention and the conditions for the production of myth, in keeping with a practice that has always been part of human culture.