In 2002 the Van Abbemuseum made a special purchase in the form of an exhibition of 28 works by 18 different artists as part of the project ‘No Ghost Just a Shell’. Central to this project was a virtual figure made for the multi-million dollar Japanese manga animation industry, in which these kinds of figures and characters are ‘consumed’ in large numbers. In 1999 the French artists Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno bought the rights to this figure. They gave her the name ‘AnnLee’ and allowed her to tell her own life story. She was given a voice, a 3D form, a memory, a history and an identity. Huyghe and Parreno then invited various other artists to use AnnLee in their own work and to fill the empty shell with storylines and ideas – free of copyright. They also conceived of a way of producing relatively cheap 3D animations on video, which several artists made use of.
As well as in animation, AnnLee popped up in posters, paintings, objects, an installation, a magazine, a sound work and a book. In all of these she relates her own history – how, following an unremarkable role in a manga comic strip, she was doomed to disappear for good, but was spared the fate by being sold for 46000 yen and given a form, voice and a history. She tells how she gained an identity and experienced adventures. She reads aloud from a book or meets her own image. She is given her own magazine, playthings and soundtrack. Each work forms a chapter from her history. By giving her a coffin, she is also given the possibility to die. In 2002 Huyghe and Parreno concluded the project by transferring the copyrights to AnnLee herself. This means she owns her own identity thus making it impossible to exploit her anymore.
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