Marine Hugonnier

Apicula Enigma

NoguerasBlanchard, Madrid
Sep 14 - Nov 8, 2013

NoguerasBlanchard is pleased to announce an exhibition by Marine Hugonnier in the gallery’s space in Madrid. The artist’s new film Apicula Enigma (2013) will be presented on a 35mm projection. This film was made in the light of a network of references including Maurice Maeterlinck’s book La vie des abeilles (1910) and is a continuation of Hugonnier’s exploration of the nature and culture of the gaze, a deliberation on the subjectivities and technologies of seeing that shape our natural and social environments.

The film starts with the sound of bees buzzing and an opening shot of a field in full bloom. After a few minutes, a voice whispers: « Nature doesn’t tell stories » followed by images of bees flying around a beehive. This introduction outlines Hugonnier’s position as one that is set against the conventions that compromise the image and narrative of wild-life film documentaries, and that instead attempts to record the factual truth of what happened on set. These conventions such as anthropomorphism, fixed narrative structures, voyeurism (a point of view which in reality is impossible to the viewer), or filming techniques that «break down the barriers between a subject and the audience» have been carefully avoided.

Shot in Austria, in the Koshuta mountains of southern Carinthia, Apicula Enigma is an animal documentary essay that records the factual truth of what happened on set. The beehive and the colony, the collection of pollen and the bees that swarmed out of the beehive to the nearest tree and then swarm out again to disappear into the forest.

As in some of Hugonnier’s earlier film projects, the working process forms part of the narrative and content of the artwork. Finding an acceptable limit of visibility to film the bees: at a distance which resembles the viewer’s normal perception, “the gaze of a flaneur on a promenade”. According to the artist, “staying close to the factual truth involved filming the crew and the process of making images, but in particular the space in between the crew and the bees, the “being in the presence” of the bees. If for Serge Daney «Cinema teaches me to touch with my gaze the distance from me at which the other begins» then this film is a way to find the distance where the animal world keeps its enigma. “Apicula Enigma” literally means: the bee’s riddle. This is an animal documentary of another kind. Its records the time spent in the presence of the bees, these moments where science turns into science fiction, a point at which the most factual events become poetic and fantastical”.

Among the multiple references associated with this film, it is significant to note the metaphor of the beehive as an ideological model for social-political utopias and the phenomenon of swarms as a key to artificial intelligence , crowd control, cellular robotics and recent warfare theory.

Marine Hugonnier’s solo exhibitions include: FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Reims, France (2009); Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (2009); Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany (2009); Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain MAMCO, Geneva, Switzerland (2009); S.M.A.K. Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent, Belgium (2007); Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia (2007); Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turín, Italy (2007) and Kunsthalle Bern, Bern (2007). Recent group exhibitions: Counter-Production, Generali Foundation, Viena (2012); Shock of the News, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC (2012); Poule!, Fundación/Colección Jumex, México (2012); Unfinished Journeys, The National Museum of Norway Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo (2012); ART AND PRESS, Martin Gropius-Bau, Berlín, Alemania (2012); I Am Still Alive: Politics and Everyday Life in Contemporary Drawing, MoMA New York, curated by Christian Rattemeyer (2011); 1979, Virreina Centre de la Imatge, Barcelona, curated by Carles Guerra (2011); Badlands: New Horizons in Landscape, MASS MoCA, Massachustets, curated by Denise Markonish (2008); Then the Work Takes Place, Kunsthaus Graz, Graz, Austria (2008); 52ª Biennale di Venezia, curated by Robert Storr (2007).

Marine Hugonnier (Paris, 1969) lives and works in London.

Apicula Enigma is being presented simultaneously at Contour, 6th Biennial of the Moving Image, Mechelen, Belgium (curated by Jacob Fabricous) until November 6th.

The film will be in competition at CPH: DOX, Copenhagen International Documentary Festival (Denmark) this November.

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Selected Works

Marine Hugonnier
Apicula Enigma


35mm film


Marine Hugonnier
Modele (A revision)


Red powder, coated brass and mirror

45 x 65 cm (17 2332 x 25 1932 inches)

Marine Hugonnier
Studio (Monet's Garden in Giverny)



36 x 32 cm (14 532 x 12 1932 inches)