In 1994, Pierre Huyghe hired actors to re-create everyday street scenes for his camera—workers on a building site, for example. The photographs were later pasted on billboards adjacent to the place where this unremarkable behavior had taken place, substituting disruptingly ordinary images for banally ostentatious advertisements.
Huyghe’s practice is haunted by such reorientations of reality. Throughout the late 1990s, he created a clutch of multimedia works that exploited film dubbing, translation, and subtitling to track the duplicitous nature of the cinematic event. In Remake (1994–1995), he reshot an entire Alfred Hitchcock film with amateur performers; for other projects he has asked the original actors to revisit their old roles. Like his European contemporaries and collaborators, including Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Philippe Parreno, Liam Gillick, and Angela Bullock, Huyghe often trades in unfinished stories and intertwined propositions.
Huyghe and Parreno purchased the rights to a nascent animated manga (Japanese graphic novel) character in 1999, naming her Annlee and conceiving an enterprise-cum-exhibition entitled No Ghost Just a Shell, un film d’imaginaire (1999–2002). Annlee would serve as an infinitely adaptable vessel around which invited artists could develop new artworks that are,
in essence, remakes without any original.1
Huyghe’s Two Minutes Out of Time (2000) and Parreno’s Anywhere Out of the World (2000), also in the Walker Art Center’s collection, are both computer-generated animations of Annlee avatars that recount alternative prologues to the No Ghost Just a Shell project. Accompanying Huyghe’s film is a poster of a forlorn Bambi-eyed girl, the earliest image of Annlee. Yet in her following “episodes,” it’s clear that she is more than just a bit sad. As an object of (psycho)analysis, Annlee is ridden with powerful symptoms of dissociative disorders: mood swings, sleepwalking, flashbacks, amnesia, and time loss. Two Minutes Out of Time is a psychotic, cerebral overture told in hallucinations. At first Annlee describes herself in the third person, recounting her inauspicious origins as “a fictional character with a copyright designed by a company and proposed for sale.” In moments of clarity, Annlee understands herself as a “deviant sign” that is “haunted by your imagination,” before being abruptly possessed by a persona with the voice of a young American girl.
The project, whose title refers to Mamoru Oshii’s classic anime film Ghost in the Shell (1995), eventually involved fifteen artists, including Gonzalez-Foerster, Gillick, and Bullock as well as Rirkrit Tiravanija, Joe Scanlan, and Richard Phillips. It was brought to an end in December 2002, with a fireworks performance by Huyghe and Parreno. The artists transferred Annlee’s copyright to a legal entity with the specific purpose of enforcing a ban on any further use of her image. See Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno, eds., No Ghost Just a Shell (Zürich: Kunsthalle Zürich; Eindhoven, the Netherlands: Van Abbemuseum; Cambridge, England: Institute of Visual Culture; Köln, Germany: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2003), and Philip Nobel, “Annlee: Sign of the Times,” Artforum 41, no. 5 (January 2003): 105–109. ↩