The best place to go for some R&R at the moment is a commercial art gallery. What? I hear you cry. Yes, really. If you think of galleries as intimidating places that exhibit expensive works most of us can only ever dream of owning, you’re in for a surprise at Hauser & Wirth in Savile Row, where tranquil respite awaits you.
Swiss video artist Pipilotti Rist has made a career out of creating video projections that aim to re-engage us with our inner self. And her latest mesmeric installation, ‘Worry Will Vanish’, is worth 15, 30 minutes or, heck, an hour or two of anyone’s time.
Don’t be suspicious when a gallery assistant asks you to take off your shoes. It’s a crucial part of fully immersing yourself in the haven of relaxation that lies behind the giant denim curtain. Ambient music can be heard. Plush carpet can be felt under foot. A sea of white duvets beckons you to recline (or snuggle) so you can surrender yourself to the vivid imagery that floods the space.
Coddled and lying on the gallery floor, you can see vast projected visuals of dense vegetation all around you. These segue into glowing, veined caverns. Suddenly you’re back outside with the ferns, travelling at grass height before slipping inside once again to the pulsating, glowing tunnels. Rist’s video yo-yos between the external and internal, the bucolic and the bodily. The tunnels are, in fact, (computer-generated) interior spaces of the body. At one point you’re at the tip of a toe that’s about to step into the sea, but you’re watching the scene from the inside. It puts a whole new spin on the idea of living in someone else’s skin.
By superimposing CGI onto video footage, Rist creates a wonderfully weird hyper-reality. This is further heightened by the atmospheric audio made in collaboration with Anders Guggisberg. It’s hypnotic but never numbing.
Regardless of how long you spend with the work, you can’t help but be engrossed by Rist’s approach to video presentation, or her manipulation of scale and use of visual effects. It penetrates your sensory cortex and certainly nudges your parietal lobe, making you conscious of your existence and ultimately more receptive to your surroundings. You become so entranced that you lose all sense of the other visitors, making you the only one floating through this fantastical galaxy. Definitely one of the most life-enhancing art experiences of 2014.