Huyghe’s 1994/2001 video installation Les Grands Ensembles (The Housing Projects) is featured as one of the many provocative works in the special exhibition Contemporary Collecting: Selections from the Donna and Howard Stone Collection. Shown in the Stone Film and New Media Gallery, the work presents a fixed view of two residential towers in a bleak urban landscape, swathed in fog at night. Lacking any signs of human activity, the buildings appear to take on lives of their own as the video’s buzzing electronic soundtrack, composed by Pan Sonic and Cédric Pigot, builds in intensity. Windows in the two façades begin to light up rhythmically and with increasing frequency, as if communicating in some sort of code. The towers, which are actually models the artist created in a film studio, do not represent specific structures but echo the architecture of French government housing projects common in the 1970s. Set in the starkly desolate landscape, the buildings recall the failures of Modernist architecture’s utopian social goals. This familiar narrative, however, ultimately gives way to the volley of lights, a mysterious cipher that resists attempts at interpretation.
June 24–October 24, 2010