’No Ghost Just A Shell’ was initiated when French artists and frequent collaborators Philippe Parreno (1964, Paris) and Pierre Huyghe (1962, Paris) purchased the copyright for ‘Annlee’, an animated figure originally designed by Kworks, a Manga agency in Tokyo. Such ‘digital actors’ are available for purchase by anyone, from comics producers to advertisers. Unlike more expensive Manga figures, whose complex character traits command higher price tags, Annlee was initially designed without any psychological background, personal history, specific characteristics, attitudes or abilities. She could exist in any kind of story, but with no chance of surviving any of them. As a digital ‘extra’, her predetermined destiny was to fade away quickly or simply perish after a few minutes of film or a couple of comic book pages. By purchasing the copyright to this cybernetic ghost, Parreno and Huyghe rescued her from an industry that eventually would have condemned her to death.
‘No Ghost Just A Shell’ proposes scenarios in which Annlee is liberated from ownership and allowed the chance to resolve the ambiguities of her fate. Over the last year Parreno and Huyghe have invited the artists Henri Barande (Switzerland), Francois Curlet (1967, Paris), Liam Gillick (1964, London and New York), Dominique Gonzales-Foerster (1965, Paris), Pierre Joseph (1965, Nice) with Mehdi Belhaj-Kacem, M/M Paris (founded 1991, Mathias Augustyniak, 1967, and Michael Amzalag, 1968), Melik Ohanian (1969, Paris), Joe Scanlan (1961, Connecticut), Rirkrit Tiravanija (1961, New York), and Anna-LÈna Vaney (1970, Paris) to appropriate the character free of charge, and to reinvent her life. Each artist has shaped a new chapter in Annlee’s history, complicating her status as a ‘deviant sign’. The results include video animations, paintings, posters, books, neon works, fragrance works, and sculptures.
Institute of Visual Culture will present several of these projects together for the first time in Britain. After the exhibition’s run in Cambridge, Kunsthalle Zurich, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Annlee will be assigned a contract transferring all copyright and exploitation rights to her, thus preventing any artists from initiating future projects with the character. An IKEA coffin, designed for Annlee by Joe Scanlan, will be presented as well as the contract liberating her from circulation. What form her identity will take thereafter, and how it will be disseminated, remain ambiguous.
‘No Ghost Just A Shell’ presents a multiplication of the same as a form of difference. Parreno and Huyghe have initiated not only a series of artworks, but a network of relationships and alliances that play with the traditional logic of production, distribution, exhibition and reception. Annlee is the phantom of a cyber-commodity. Her software status calls into question the very nature of ownership, authorship, copyright and autonomy.
‘No Ghost Just A Shell’ has been co-produced by Institute of Visual Culture, Cambridge, Kunsthalle, Zurich, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition will be accompanied by a reader (304 pages, hardcover, £30) that will include texts by Jean-Claude Ameisen, Kathryn Davis, Liam Gillick, Douglas Gordon, Maurizio Lazaratto, Molly Nesbitt, Maurice Pianzola, Luc Saucier, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Jan Verwoert and will be published and distributed internationally by Walther König, Cologne.
Institute of Visual Culture has commissioned Joe Scanlan to contribute to this project.
‘No Ghost Just A Shell’ is generously supported by the Arts Council of England National Touring Programme. Institute of Visual Culture is supported by East England Arts, Cambridge City Council, and the Regional Arts Lottery Programme.
Artists : Henri Barande, Francois Curlet, Liam Gillick, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Pierre Huyghe, Pierre Joseph with Mehdi Belhaj-Kacem, M/M, Mathias Augustyniak, and Michael Amzalag, Melik Ohanian, Philippe Parreno, Richard Phillips, Joe Scanlan, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Anna-Léna Vaney