Skip to content Skip to footer

Pierre Huyghe: Variants at Kistefos Museum, Norway

Permanent installation

The 50th piece in the sculpture park, Variants by French artist Pierre Huyghe (born 1962, Paris), is presented by Kistefos with great pride. Variants is a piece created just for Kistefos that is site-specific. It is the most ambitious commission for the Kistefos Sculpture Park to date and Huyghe’s largest permanent piece to date.

The piece offers something absolutely new in the sculpture park and includes artificial intelligence, 3D-scanned artifacts, living beings, and organisms. Variants is situated on a frequently flooded island that was formerly inaccessible. Pierre Huyghe carefully selected the site, which necessitated a large extension of the surrounding area and Kistefos as a whole.


Real-time simulation, generative sounds, an intelligent camera, environmental sensors, manifested mutations, scanned forest, plants, animals, and microbes are all combined with synthetic and biological elements.

A multipolar entity that perceives, produces, and modifies is called a variant. It is both an island and what that island might be in an other reality at the same time.

The island has been scanned so that it can serve as the setting for a real-time simulation. The actual and digital milieux can pass through one another.

An artificial neural network that creates unpredictably mutated simulations of what is there on the island, whether it be living or inanimate, noises or things, such as trees, trash, animals, or people, is used to play out a fictional tale.

The created mutations alter behavior in real time as contingent and fluctuant occurrences within the island, in its geochemical or biological activity, and the recurrent floodwater speeds up their growth. The intelligences housed in the spectral space are constantly in a state of unsolved crisis.

Occasionally, mutations leave the simulation and emerge physically on the island, where they live or die, polluting the real world with an unknowable potential of themselves and gradually changing the appearance of the island.

A screen where a simulated environment is explored by an autonomous, uneasy eye, viewing the island’s ever-changing ecology, is reached through a path cutting through the island.

The island is rendered inaccessible as a result of the flood. However, the indifferent entity persists whether it is impenetrable or immersive.

Pierre Huyghe bio
Pierre Huyghe was born in 1962 in Paris and lives and works in New York. His work is internationally known and presented in various exhibitions around the world.

Over the course of his 25-year career and across many diverse media, Huyghe has developed an artistic practice that examines the complex and often contradictory ways in which humans relate to the natural world and to its intelligent and often inscrutable systems. Huyghe has incorporated living animals, plants, and insects as components in many of his visionary projects. Throughout his various networks of objects and ideas, Huyghe explores the paradoxical rift between what we think we know about the world and what it can and cannot, in turn, tell us.

For Huyghe the exhibition ritual is not an asymmetrical experience but an encounter with a sentient milieu, that perceives, generates new possibilities of co-dependence between events or elements that unfold. The exhibition is an entity whose time and space in which it appears are constituents of its manifestation. His works are conceived as scenarios, excesses of fiction and often present themselves as continuity between a wide range of intelligent life forms, biological, technological, and tangible inert matter that learn, modify and evolve. They are permeable, contingent, and often indifferent to witnesses.

Recent exhibitions include After UUmwelt, Luma Foundation, Arles (2021); UUmwelt, Serpentine Gallery, London (2018); The Roof Garden, Metropolitan Museum, New York (2015). In 2012 -2014, a major retrospective of Huyghe’s work traveled from the Centre Pompidou (France) to the Ludwig Museum (Germany) and to Los Angeles County Museum of Art (USA).

Kistefos Museum
Samsmoveien 41
3520 Jevnaker