Les Grands Ensembles


Ink on transparency, light box, vistavision film

Video: 7min. 51sec. Light Box: 21.6 x 27.5 x 0.12 cm (8 1/2 x 10 13/16 x 1/16 in.)

Two tower blocks are standing in front of each other in a wintry mist. Some windows are lit, signaling that people live there. Suddenly, the lights start blinking and do so increasingly rapidly to the beat of techno music. The two tower blocks, which look like social housing buildings, seem to respond to each other according to a strange choreography.

The video Les Grands Ensembles (the housing estates) evokes the vast urban development program implemented in France in the late 1970s. The emergence of “new towns” and the transformation of the territory are expressed here through playfulness and imagination. But more than a dialogue between two tower blocks, Pierre Huyghe's video refers the failure of an urban policy marked by Le Corbusier's modernism.

Presented at the Venice Biennale in 2001, Les Grands Ensembles was first shown as part of the Pinault Collection in 2006 at the Where Are We Going? exhibition at Palazzo Grassi, in Venice.