Artist Pierre Huyghe's retrospective lands in L.A., with animals

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[November 20, 2014]  By Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Don't worry, the white dog with the pink leg is supposed to be there, as are the bees, fake snow and rocks floating on water.

It's all part of the unpredictable and self-described "randomness" of French contemporary artist Pierre Huyghe's retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The show, which opens on Sunday for its only U.S. viewing, exhibits 60 of Huyghe's works over the past 28 years. It includes videos, interactive works, paintings as well as animals and fake weather that visitors have to confront.

Huyghe's art, and the show as a whole, is an open environment meant to change and act randomly over time.

"I let the situation unfold; I just give the condition of a situation, but I do not know the outcome," said the 52-year-old artist.

His works like "Human," the white Ibizan Hound with the pink leg freely roaming the labyrinthine gallery of sharp diagonal walls, challenge easy definition.

"I might not even try," said the show's curator Jarrett Gregory, who called Huyghe's art an outlier in the contemporary landscape.

"It's about the experience and not looking at discrete works," Gregory added. "It's a redefinition of what we typically expect when we think of an artwork."

The retrospective has already been on view at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany. The LACMA show also features the premiere of "Precambrian Explosion," an aquarium with a live ecosystem and floating rock.

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Visitors are also able to step out into the California sun as machines overhead dump fake snow, fog and rain all while thousands of bees swarm from a concrete classical sculpture of a lounging nude woman with beehive head, "Untilled (Liegender Frauenakt)."

Huyghe says he likes to remove viewers from our human system of knowledge making them confront animal instincts.

The 19-minute film "Untitled (Human Mask)," a confusion of human and animals, set against the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan shows a monkey in a white mask with long brown-haired wig wandering its own learned habitat: the restaurant where it works in real life.

"I'm interested in the fact that I just can't say, do this or do that ... This animal will have a survival instinct. You need to either reproduce or eat," he said.

(Editing by Mary Milliken, Bernard Orr)

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