Untitled (Human Mask)
Distributed for Afterall Books
An examination of Pierre Huyghe's post-apocalyptic Untitled (Human Mask), which asks whether our human future may be one of remnants and mimicry.
Pierre Huyghe's 2014 film Untitled (Human Mask) combines images of a post-apocalyptic world (actual footage of deserted streets close to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of March 2011) with a haunting scene of a monkey working in an empty restaurant wearing a human mask and a wig. She's a girl! The flat, emotionless almost automaton state of the mask and the artificial glossy hair topped even with a child's bow, suggests that she, the monkey, might be a character from Japanese Noh theatre. But there's no music. Instead Huyghe's film evinces the terrifying possibility that our own, human, future might just be one of remnants and mimicry; that the deserted streets of Fukushima and the monkey's recognizable, alienating chimeric performance is all that might survive us. Untitled (Human Mask) presents a pluperfect world with extinction the endgame for a civilization that cared little for the present, dreaming only of a future that inevitably and necessarily could not include it.