In 2003 the Van Abbemuseum made a special purchase – it bought an exhibition of 28 works by 18 different artists as part of the project ‘No Ghost Just a Shell’.
Central to this project was a virtual figure made by a commercial company in Japan for the Manga animation industry. In 1999 Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno bought the rights to this virtual figure, gave him (or her) the name AnnLee and brought the figure to life. AnnLee gained a voice, a history and an identity. Huyghe and Parreno then invited other artists to bring the figure to life through stories and ideas. AnnLee popped up in all kinds of guises in various places and times. Video animation films, paintings, objects, installations, posters, a magazine, a sound work and a book were all produced and the works were finally drawn together in a travelling exhibition shown at the Kunsthalle Zurich, the Institute of Visual Culture, Cambridge, and the MoMA, San Francisco. The exhibition ended at the Van Abbemuseum in January 2003 where it was added to the museum collection in its entirety.
What does it mean for a museum to purchase such a project/exhibition? What opportunities does the museum have to show these works and what is the impact of these opportunities on the significance of the project itself? How do the individual works relate to the whole and to the context in which they are shown? These questions form the starting point for a new display consisting of various parts of the project which can be seen from 9 April for consecutive periods in different parts of the museum.