‘When I close my eyes, my imagination roams free. In the same way I want to create spaces for video art that rethink the very nature of the medium itself. I want to discover new ways of configuring the world, both the world outside and the world within.’ Pipilotti Rist
I have been fascinated by the work of Pipilotti Rist’s work since I read an article about her work in the Biennale magazine whilst in Venice a few years
ago. I watched her videos on youtube and was mesmerised, but it was nothing compared to the totally immersive absorbing and engulfing
experience of seeing her ‘audiovisual poems’ spanning floor to ceiling and all around at The Hayward Gallery. While some works are vast others are minute
and focused, like ‘ Yoghurt on Skin- Velvet on TV ’ where the viewer is invited to peer into a handbag or look into a shell to find tiny LCD screens projecting
different videos and sounds. A woman wearing a blue bejewelled headdress, in another a gigantic eye, people and body parts floating in slow motion.
Glistening like jewels, some images seem rather abstract and may be close ups of tongues, lips, earthworms, snails fruit or other organic structures. There
is something quite secret and exciting about this work, maybe it’s a bit voyeuristic.
Pipilotti makes even the most mundane things appear beautiful and sumptuous. Familiar things become more visceral, more real. She combines the world of the closed eye with the world of the open eye and what we see is just beautiful. I was overcome with a kind of sadness though, asking myself ‘why doesn’t the world always look so mad with colour and divine when I open my eyes?’ I suppose perpetual dissatisfaction is integral to the human condition and I think we will always feel the need to pursue something more beautiful and more alive, strive for that external place that makes us feel like ourselves. Or maybe it’s just me, being Sagittarius. Does such a place exist or is it in fact a state of mind? If we look through the kaleidoscope eyes of Pipilotti I think we might find it.
But there is a sense of artifice- of hyper reality. Her vision is too acute, clear, too chemical to be real. Sound, image, speed and colour are all manipulated
and distorted to enchant and envelop us. In this way they become more like words, symbols or metaphors. A wave of warmth pervaded my limbs as I lay back and watched what Rist describes as a ‘forest of light’ – scenes of chlorophyll green, sheep, flora and fauna drift past me, projected onto the most delicate sheets of sheer fabric which billowed just slightly, seemingly floating. Rist says that these image-carries remind her of the lapses that occur in the brain. “Images projected onto the curtain inevitably fall apart on the ones behind. They help us to diffuse the images in the same way that our memory of the past encroaches on our waking consciousness.”
I feel rather guilty about writing this post, I went to the exhibition on the last day it was open and it is now over.. but.. If you ever get the opportunity to see
her work I would highly recommend you go and be seduced by supersaturated colour.