Les Grands Ensembles (The Housing Projects) (2001, Pierre Huyghe)

Properly exhibited, Les Grands Ensembles should be projected in an art gallery. In an endless loop. The film runs just under eight minutes. In it, artist Pierre Huyghe tells a strange little story about two buildings. Now, the full title of the piece is (apparently) Les Grands Ensembles (The Housing Projects), and so, one should look on the buildings as projects.

I’ll bet, if you just Google, you can read all about their importance in Ensembles, which has very little to do with the film itself. Removed from the exhibition context, it is instead this meticulous, exhilarating race towards exhaustion.

The film is a single shot. The two buildings, a park in between. The problem with seeing it as representational of time passing is the lack of human representatives. The buildings are models. Great models. The park is a great model. There’s fog (live action fog) clouding the buildings. Then people get home. How do we know? Lights go on. One here, one there, then in the tower.

But then too many get home at once, too many leave at once. And there aren’t any cars, so what’s going on. Well, then Ensembles becomes this celebration of light, the two buildings taking on personalities as they try to out light one another. Until the fog gets worse, until there’s window attacking the park, attacking the buildings.

There’s this quiet, invading music from Pan Sonic and Cédric Pigot.

Ensembles is a technical marvel.

3/3Highly Recommended


Directed by Pierre Huyghe; music by Pan Sonic and Cédric Pigot.


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