This is not a time for dreaming…

…is the name of a video we saw this summer at the Beaubourg. It’s on the lower of the two floors, halfway down on the left and was made by Pierre Huyghe, an artist I’ve never come across before. I always find videos in galleries difficult because of the way they impose their time scale on you; they won’t let you dawdle or speed past them after a cursory glance They have the advantage and disadvantage of narrative, or narrative potential. But this one captured and held me. It re-enacts Le Corbusier’s experiences at Harvard (which must have been dreadful if this work is anything to go by) and uses string puppets. There are so many ways in which the work delights: the technical skill of the puppeteer, the emblematic yet personalised nature of the puppets, the teasing way in which it satisfies and fails to satisfy our search for narrative as it veers from one kind of representation to another, from (puppet) naturalism to symbol and archetype. If I remember correctly, Harvard is represented as an enormous malevolent black bird stalking across the stage. At one point the puppets manipulate their own puppets. There are moments of great lyricism as what seems to be an ecological undercurrent finds expression in the growth of a tree. I don’t have any photographs of it to show you (obviously), so you’ll have to go and see it yourself. You won’t regret it.

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