Pipilotti Rist’s dream factory
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Swiss video art star creates new museum-going experience
Pipilotti Rist, whose works are in major collections worldwide, transforms an entire wing of the Zurich Kunsthaus into a sensorial wonderland. To enter the exhibition is to be physically engulfed by the artist’s imagination and dreams.
The show is both a retrospective and an experiment: works from four decades and new pieces fill the 1,000 square meters from ceiling to floor. We are entering into a suburban fairyland and dream factory, complete with candy colour furnishings (Little Make-up Table with Feedback, 1993), a peep show (Pickelporno, 1992) and a chandelier made out of people’s knickers, a sudden revelation of how our most intimate garments come in amazing shapes and sizes (Cape Cod Chandelier, 2011)
This is the opposite of a museum experience: visitors are invited to lie on a bed, read a book, eat an orange while they take in the environment. Please touch! Surrounded by Pipilotti’s video fantasies, it is easy to let go. The images and the sounds arrive in waves, jungle sounds, cosmic sounds, bike bells, humming, flushing water and Pipilotti singing Chris Isaak’s hit: “I don’t want to fall in love with you”, gently at first, and then screaming (Sip my Ocean, 1996).
Branded a feminist because she dared assert a woman’s right to her own sexuality, and used her naked elfin body extensively in her videos, Rist is just as importantly an artist who has taken technological immersion to new frontiers. Contrary to video art that generally leaves viewers on the outside, Rist’s art is all about inviting us in.
We discover in Zurich how she is challenging the boundaries of our own bodies. The sensorial uplift is so complete that we no longer know where our own body stops and her art begins. We wander through a forest of dangling pixels lights (Pixelforest, 2016) and begin a journey into the human body (Worry will vanish Horizon, 2014).
Although not identified as a political artist, Rist has never been afraid to provoke and disturb, but because she does it with grace, she gets away with it. At the entrance of the exhibition, along the entire windowed surface of the first floor, the artist has created a mosaic from the transparent plastic containers we bring back from shopping every day and that are choking our planet.
A word of caution: to preserve the immersion experience of "Your saliva is my Diving Suit in the Ocean of Pain" (the name of the exhibition), the number of visitors at any given time may be limited. Best to find out before planning to go.