A Hermit Crab's Journey From London to Miami

Pierre Huyghe, Recollection, 2011, Frieze Art Fair

Pierre Huyghe, Recollection, 2011, Frieze Art Fair

If you were at the Frieze Art Fair in London last month, you might remember that one of the best displays was Pierre Huyghe’s aquarium featuring a hermit crab the artist got to take on a new shell in the shape of Sleeping Muse, a 1910 sculpture by Constantin Brancusi. The display was a bit out of the way in the Frieze tent, back by the restaurant, but once you found it you were well-rewarded: The Observer spent almost an hour one morning gazing at this obliviously artful crustacean as it skittered along the bottom of its tank, its beady eyes alert, its miniscule legs sweeping plankton–or whatever it is the thing eats–into its mouth with the antic speed of a little motor. If you watched it from certain angles, all you saw was a Brancusi on the move, which seemed like a potent metaphor, for something.

We were so taken with this strange creature that we got in touch with Mr. Huyghe’s gallery, Marian Goodman, immediately after Frieze to find out if there would be another stop on the hermit crab’s itinerary. It turns out there is. The gallery got in touch today and: Look out Miami. Next week the hermit crab’s new tank will be installed at Marian Goodman’s booth at Art Basel Miami Beach. (Or should we say, look out hermit crab? This is Miami; his brethren tend to come to a bad end in those parts…)

Here’s a video of the little world traveler.



  1. Unknowncolor says:

    Sad and silly

  2. Thoughts about Huyghe’s aquariums. Some months ago spent a few hours among Pierre Huyghe’s aquariums at Marion Goodman’s on 57 St. & caught some lovely video clips in the several darkened galleries. It was all quite silent & mesmerizing — many of the array of tiny creatures obviously exotic, delicate & beautifully wise in their ways, not racing but slowly hovering, some spidery, walking in stately fashion like Dali’s impossibly long legged elephants — all peacefully coexisting, only a few in each tank & very carefully lit depending on their needs of comfort, the predatory separated from each other. Saw only three human beings the whole while explaining to a writer a particular individual creature. These were all whole tiny worlds very carefully arranged in their sense of naturalism & convincing — like peering into intriguing poetic real Sci-Fi worlds. None resembled the typical large quick denizens one normally thinks of in large public or even small home aquariums or often on deep sea nature shows. This was small scale, but in ways incredibly vast, even cosmic — totally meditative, memorable, nourishing — a very beautiful & rare experience — much finer than the art in galleries… Despite missing the star power of Brancusi’s hermit crab ( shown in the image above ) whom I wasn’t then aware of & somehow not spotted — don’t feel I missed a thing…