Nick Hackworth

Pierre Huyghe: Celebration Park, Tate Modern

Essays & Reviews Evening Standard

With his high-impact visual style, his interest in mass culture and tendency to roam across media, French artist Pierre Huyghe, 44, would have slotted neatly into the pack of Young British Artists.

For this show he deploys his talent for encapsulating ideas on subjects as diverse as the exploration of the unknown, the creation of new festivals, such as the poignant Streamside Day, the proliferation of anniversaries in the calendar and the independence of fictional characters. It is in this last arena that Huyghe has produced his most touching work.

Collaborating with fellow artist Philippe Parreno, Huyghe bought the rights to a Manga character — the big-eyed young girl, Annlee — and cast her in posters and films. In a final act recorded in a video shown here, A Smile Without a Cat, Huyghe employed a lawyer to give the character legal rights over itself and thus allow it to escape from the world.

He marked the event with a huge firework display in Miami in which an image of Annlee, etched in fire, burned brightly then faded into nothingness. The theme is echoed in another video, in which the actress who dubbed the voice of Snow White in the French version of the Disney movie talks about how she, in some sense, had become Snow White herself.

Exploring such slippage is a driving force of Huyghe’s work, seen also in a series relating to a trip to the Antarctic in 2005 in which Huyghe hired a scientific vessel to sail through the Southern Ocean in search of new islands revealed by the retreating ice and a strange, white, creature, known only by random, uncertain sightings. The video of the voyage through the other - world of ice floes and inhuman terrain is, like much of Huyghe’s work, both thought- provoking and strangely moving.

Until 17 September. Information: 020 7887 8888.