Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pipilotti Rist: Relational Aesthetician?

Pour Your Body Out (7354 Cubic Meters)
November 19, 2008–February 2, 2009
Museum of Modern Art, Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium, second floor

Tuesday, November 18, 2008. Don't look now, but MoMA seems to be entering the Relational Aesthetics sweepstakes with their installation of Pipilotti Rist's Pour Your Body Out (7354 Cubic Meters). It opens about a month after the Guggenheim's group foray into RA, theanyspacewhatever.

I missed today's press opening, but as Rist outlines the project in the attached video, she definitely envisions it as an interactive work. She wants people to "bring their bodies to the museum", to come into the huge atrium and feel "stretched". She hopes to "redirect" the institution "to the body of the visitors". Her images, loaded onto hard disk and edited into various sequences, are arranged into seven distinct programs, thrown by seven banks of video projectors, to create a seamless 25-foot-high enveloping projection that covers all four walls.

In the center of the atrium is a large round seating and lounge area, a sofa that encloses a central padded platform with additional throw pillows. Rist feels that it resembles an eye, the dark interior pupil surrounded by a larger white circle. She expects people to orient themselves in various directions and in various postures as they watch her video unfold, and cites rolling, singing and the practice of yoga asanas as particularly apt viewing responses.

The video is ten minutes long and non-narrative, condensed from an original fifty minute loop. The protagonists include one human, one pig, several earthworms and two snails, and the soundtrack - squishy, synthesized "body" sounds in addition to a more melodic portion - will be played by speakers arranged within the seating area, to better contain the work within the museum. Pour Your Body Out uses shots and sequences from a narrative feature film that Rist plans to release in 2009.


images from Ever is All Over, 1997

Ever is All Over, 1997, was the first piece by Rist that made an impression on me. This two channel video was also previously shown at MoMA. It is described on their website:

Ever Is Over All envelops viewers in two slow-motion projections on adjacent walls. In one a roving camera focuses on red flowers in a field of lush vegetation. The spellbinding lull this imagery creates harmonizes with the projection to its left, which features a woman in sparkling ruby slippers promenading down a car-lined street. The fluidity of both scenes is disrupted when the woman violently smashes a row of car windshields with the long-stemmed flower she carries. As the vandal gains momentum with each gleeful strike of her wand, an approaching police officer smiles in approval, introducing comic tension into this whimsical and anarchistic scene.

Much of the imagery and intentionality of the current installation is presaged here. The brightly colored flowers swaying in the wind. The bucolic reveries. The literal nostalgie pour la boue, bringing the camera right down to garden level to investigate the comings and goings of backyard flora or farmyard fauna in extreme close up. The use of slow motion, stop motion and particular framings or exaggerated perspectives. The equation of nature with freedom, although an evidently pixilated or quixotic freedom. The suggestion of anarchy or revolution that is dormant in nature, and that is a necessary component of creativity. A post hippie equation of society with repression, which must be shattered in the quickest and most dramatic fashion. The possibilities of aggression and destruction in an extrapolated domesticity. The potential for metamorphosis and fable in the little girl reveries of ruby red slippers, ballroom gowns, fairies, magic wands, bright clothing. Her signature colors of pink, fuschia, bright yellow, as well as clashing patterns, like tablecloths and curtains from the ur-Mitteleuropa kitchen, which are fashioned into costumes. An unashamed embrace of the corny and the carny, of Revenge of the Nerds meets Trickster Rabbit on the Yellow Brick Road. Pist's persona - whimsical, elvish, naughty, inquisitive, meddling - that is generally kept offscreen, but still invades every moment of the videos. She reigns as the unseen but omnipresent figure of her production.

More on this when I have time to develop a new thread.


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