Untilled (Liegender Frauenakt) is a sculptural collaboration between human and insect. Exploring humanity’s ancient and symbiotic relationship with bees, the work marries a concrete sculpture of a liegender Frauenakt (reclining female nude) with a self-generating natural system—a living beehive—that takes the place of the sculpture’s head. Untilled makes sly reference to the notion of the “hive mentality” or collective thought process, but it also offers a moving example of human and animal cooperation. Buzzing and mutating according to the life cycle of the bee colony, Untilled reimagines the notion of sculpture, transforming it from an inanimate object to be seen into a living organism to be experienced.
Since the early 1990s, Huyghe has been building a body of videos, sculpture, installations, and activities that playfully and poetically investigate the physical and temporal experience of living beings, both human and animal—from bees to dogs to hermit crabs. Recreating natural systems, Huyghe both sculpts with nature and joins forces with it, embracing what he identifies as the “rhythms, automatisms . . . accidents and continuous transformations” of natural phenomena, ranging from cloud formations to animal habitats. In Huyghe’s work, natural processes are not metaphors for creativity; they are examples of it in its most perfect form.
Publication excerpt from From MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019).