The New York art scene has been buzzing about MoMA’s new living statue by French artist Pierre Huyghe, which features a head made out of an actual honey bee colony. The famed NYC museum is currently displaying Huyghe’s 2012 sculpture, entitled Untilled (Liegender Frauenakt), in their outdoor Sculpture Garden. The piece’s unusual medium makes for a constantly changing work of art that speaks to “the collective thought processes of bees… in relation to human political and social organization.”
The bee-covered head of Huyghe’s sculpture is a mix of concrete that was molded into a beehive structure and then covered with wax. According to MoMA Curator Laura Hoptman, the statue is the first living thing MoMA that has ever put on display and is the only artwork in the world that requires a beekeeper.
With help from beekeeper Andrew Cote of Andrew’s Honey, the artist was able to create the head out of the colony in a manner that won’t cause harm to the bees. Cote checks on the beehive twice a day, at dusk and dawn, to make sure that the bees are doing well and also to trim the head shape. He explains that the public shouldn’t be scared of coming for a visit. “These bees are as docile as wild creatures can be,” Cote told the NY Post “If you get stung in the city, it’s probably a wasp or a hornet.”
According to MoMA’s description of the art work, the reverberating beehive represents more than just the physical head of the sculpture. “The collective thought processes of bees—their “hive mentality”—have long been studied in relation to human political and social organization. Untilled (Liegender Frauenakt) explores these affinities and emphasizes the ancient, symbiotic relationship between humans and honeybees, which, in building their hive, collaborate in the creation of the sculpture.”
Pierre Huyghe’s Untilled (Liegender Frauenakt) will be on display at the MoMA Sculpture Garden until August 19, 2015.
Images via MoMA