No Ghost Just a Shell
In 2003 the Van Abbemuseum made a special purchase in the form of a group exhibition as part of the project No Ghost Just a Shell. The exhibition was also shown in the museum in the same year. The project was initiated by two French artists Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno. The recent presentation in the museum examines new possibilities to show this special purchase. The first instalment can be seen until 14 August. Instalments two and three will be on view until the beginning of 2006.
Huyghe en Parreno bought the rights to a virtual figure, made for the Japanese manga animation industry. They gave her the name AnnLee and allowed her to tell her own life story. For instance, AnnLee was given a voice, a history and an identity. Huyghe and Parreno then invited various artists to use AnnLee in their own work and to fill the empty shell with storylines and ideas – free of copyright. Artists, who participated in the project, are
Philippe Parreno, Pierre Huyghe, M/M Paris (Mathias Augustyniak and Michael Amzalag), Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Liam Gillick, Joe Scanlan, François Curlet, Pierre Joseph & Mehdi Belhaj-Kacem, Richard Phillips, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Anna Lena Vaney, Melik Ohanian, Lili Fleury, Henri Barande, Angela Bulloch & Imke Wagener. AnnLee popped up in animation, posters, paintings, an installation and a book. In 2002 the project was concluded by transferring the copyright to AnnLee herself. Further exploitation was made impossible. In 2003 the entire project was purchased by the Van Abbemuseum and shown in the exhibition OVER WIJ/ABOUT WE.
No Ghost Just a Shell plays with concepts like authenticity, originality and copyright during an age in which the author is increasingly disappearing into the background. It explores the antithesis between entertainment and art, with AnnLee in the leading role as a symbol of transferring from one world to another – from the commercial arena to a cultural community.
What does it mean for a museum to purchase such a group exhibition? What are the possibilities for showing the works and what is the impact of such possibilities on the significance of the project itself? These questions form the starting point for a new series of displays – a kind of instalments – of parts of the project. The instalments are shown next to each other, however also one after the other. The final outcome is not fixed. There are only phases. The Van Abbemuseum has purchased a series of heterogeneous works, yet also a group exhibition. What that implies has yet to be discovered. There isn’t one single solution…
The series of displays are taking place in the framework of a project, financed with the support of the European Commission, which involves a research into the conservation and setting up of complex installations.