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Hardcover | $34.95 Trade | £24.95 | ISBN: 9780262017800 | 280 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 57 color illus., 28 b&w illus.| September 2012
Ebook | $24.95 Trade | ISBN: 9780262315319 | 280 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 57 color illus., 28 b&w illus.| March 2012
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Parallel Presents

The Art of Pierre Huyghe


Over the past two decades, French artist Pierre Huyghe has produced an extraordinary body of work in constant dialogue with temporality. Investigating the possibility of a hypothetical mode of timekeeping--“parallel presents”-- Huyghe has researched the architecture of the incomplete, directed a puppet opera, founded a temporary school, established a pirate television station, staged celebrations, scripted scenarios, and journeyed to Antarctica in search of a mythological penguin. In this first book-length art historical examination of Huyghe and his work, Amelia Barikin traces the artist’s continual negotiation with the time codes of contemporary society. Offering detailed analyses of Huyghe’s works and drawing on extensive interviews with Huyghe and his associates, Barikin finds in Huyghe’s projects an alternate way of thinking about history--a “topological historicity” that deprograms (or reprograms) temporal formats. Huyghe once said, “It is through the montage, the way we combine and relate images, that we can create a representation of an event that is perhaps more precise than the event itself.”
Barikin offers pioneering analyses of Huyghe’s lesser-known early works as well as sustained readings of later, critically acclaimed projects, including No Ghost Just a Shell (2000), L’Expédition scintillante (2002), and A Journey That Wasn’t (2005). She emphasizes Huyghe’s concepts of “freed time” and “the open present,” in which anything might happen.

Bringing together an eclectic array of subjects and characters--from moon walking to situationist practices, from Snow White to Gilles Deleuze--Parallel Presents offers a highly original account of the driving forces behind Huyghe’s work

About the Author

Amelia Barikin, a curator, writer, and art historian, is Senior Research Associate in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne

Table of Contents

  • Parallel Presents
  • Parallel Presents
  • The Art of Pierre Huyghe
  • Amelia Barikin
  • The MIT Press
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • London, England
  • ©
  • 2012
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
  • MIT Press books may be purchased at special quantity discounts for business or sales promotional use. For information, please email or write to Special Sales Department, The MIT Press, 55 Hayward Street, Cambridge, MA 02142.
  • This book was set in Archer and Interstate by the MIT Press. Printed and bound in Spain.
  • Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
  • Barikin, Amelia, 1979–
  • Parallel presents : the art of Pierre Huyghe / Amelia Barikin.
  • pages cm.
  • Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • ISBN 978-0-262-01780-0 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Huyghe, Pierre, 1962–—Criticism and interpretation. I. Title. II. Title: Art of Pierre Huyghe.
  • N6853.H88B37 2012
  • 700.92—dc23
  • 2011052778
  • 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
  • For Vickie Douglas
  • August 4, 1951–March 7, 2011
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction: In What Time Do We Live? 1
  • 1 Early Work 9
  • 2 The Open Present 39
  • 3 A Movie Navigated by Stops 71
  • 4 Figures of Speech 99
  • 5 Inside-Out Utopia 141
  • 6 Topological Systems: An Economy of Time 183
  • Notes 225
  • Works Cited 252
  • Index 263


"There is little doubt that Pierre Huyghe is one of the most important artists of the last twenty years. In this first monograph devoted to the artist, Amelia Barikin provides a striking road map through a dense oeuvre, showing Huyghe to be involved in a thorough-going reconsideration—a reinvention—of the problem of art’s relationship to time."—George Baker, University of California, Los Angeles; author of The Artwork Caught by the Tail

"An elegant and readable road-map of the complex creative territory that is Pierre Huyghe. This no mean feat, as Amelia Barikin’s subject belongs to a generation of artists whose work is protean to the extreme. As such, Parallel Presents is indispensable not only for our understanding of Huyghe, but also for the ideas and other artists on today's cutting-edge."—Simon Morley, editor of The Sublime


Winner, 2013 Best Book Prize given by the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand