Pipilotti Rist. Prickling Goosebumps & a Humming Horizon
Luhring Augustine, Chelsea
November 18, 2023 – February 03, 2024
In November 2023, self-described “wild and friendly” Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist will present a selection of new and recent sculptural works and projections in Prickling Goosebumps & a Humming Horizon, a major two-part exhibition opening in Chelsea. The exhibition, which will take place simultaneously at Hauser & Wirth’s 22nd Street location and Luhring Augustine’s 24th Street location, has been conceived by the artist as a multisensory experience for visitors. In these complementary presentations, Rist will explore interior and exterior – internal and external physical and psychological spaces – with Luhring Augustine reimagined as an expansive, shared “backyard” and Hauser & Wirth transformed into a whimsical “collective living room.”
At each location visitors will be greeted with an artistic gesture on the façade: the work Textile Simultaneity at Luhring Augustine and Innocent Collection at Hauser & Wirth. At Luhring Augustine Chelsea on West 24th Street, visitors will be taken on a journey through an expansive “backyard” environment animated by sounds, colours, and textures. In the entrance gallery, they encounter new small-scale works – a landscape painting, Visual Cortex Dolomites, and a rock sculpture, Respect Scholarly Rock – each of which is activated by hypnotic video projections. The main gallery is dominated by Rist’s spellbinding Neighbors Without Fences (2020), a full-scale façade of a clapboard house, which is surrounded by a “courtyard” filled with outdoor patio furniture and anchored by The Patience (2016), a massive 1.5-ton boulder awash in the colors of a dynamic projection.
A version of Neighbors Without Fences debuted as a highlight in Big Heartedness, Be My Neighbor, Rist’s 2021-22 survey exhibition at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Each window of the clapboard façade contains a glowing screen displaying new videos made specifically for this exhibition; the works are from Rist’s Peeping Freedom Shutters series (2020-2023), a group of unique video sculptures that pay homage to women’s rights activists whose fearless advocacy has opened windows onto the possibility of a more equitable world. The back gallery will present Big Skin (2022), a version of which was first included in Rist’s solo exhibition Behind Your Eyelid at Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong. The installation’s undulating, semi-translucent resin panels, or “skins”, float cloud-like from the ceiling with video projections of real and animated galaxies and natural landscapes dancing across their surfaces. The resin material of these skins simultaneously absorbs and emits light, creating ghostly shadows across the walls and floor, transporting viewers into another dimension.
At Hauser & Wirth’s West 22nd Street building, Rist will transform the entire street-level space into a “living room” painted in lush reds and vegetal greens. Here guests will discover single-channel sculptural video works, including many presented publicly for the first time. For each of these works, Rist has embedded a video into a found domestic object or piece of furniture – from Ich brenne für dich (I burn for you) (2018), fashioned from an antique marble fireplace mantle to Über Stock und Stein (Over Hill and Dale) (2023), which animates the interior of a vintage toy horse stable with different oscillating forms and colors. A new group of sculptures, together titled Metal Flake Milk Tooth (2023), punctuates the space in an arrangement lying low across the gallery floor.
With their furniture-like qualities – each form evokes yet subverts the familiar geometries of a chair or coffee table – these objects hew to Rist’s longstanding fascination with the reflective and emotive potentials of light: constructed fibreglass composite, the sculptures have been coated with metal flakes, airbrushed candy colors and clear lacquer that yield glittery, optically dynamic surfaces which defy capture by photography. Metal Flake Milk Tooth thus happily demands that we experience it in three dimensions and be present in its space in order to engage its pleasures. Two new major video projections – Welling Color Island East (2023) and Welling Color Island West (2023) – and the new moving light installation Petting Colors (2023) complete Rist’s interior adventure at Hauser & Wirth. Her richly colored projections swirl down from the ceiling onto carpet “islands” occupied by cushioned seating areas for communal occupancy and immersion. The gently moving lights of Petting Colors dance across the room to land upon visitors and connect them to one another as well as Rist’s other works in situ, making members of the public active participants in her enchantments.
Pipilotti Rist, a pioneer of spatial video art, was born in 1962 in Grabs in the Swiss Rhine Valley on the Austrian border and has been a central figure within the international art scene since the mid-1980s. Astounding the art world with the energetic exorcist’s statement of her now-famous single channel videos, such as I’m Not The Girl Who Misses Much (1986) and Pickelporno (1992), her artistic work has co-developed with technical advancements and playful exploration of its new possibilities to propose footage resembling a collective brain. Through large video projections and digital manipulation, she has developed immersive installations that draw life from slow caressing showers of vivid color tones, like her works Sip My Ocean (1996) and Worry Will Vanish (2014).
For Rist, showing vulnerability is a sign of strength which she draws for inspiration. With her curious and lavish recordings of nature (to which humans belong as an animals), and her investigative editing, Rist seeks to justify the privileged position we are born with, simply by being human. Her installations and exhibition concepts are expansive, finding within the mind, senses, and body the possibility for endless discovery and poetical invention. Pixel Forest (2016), made from 3,000 LEDs hung on strings, resembles a movie screen that has exploded into the room, allowing viewers an immersive walk through 3-dimensional video. As she herself puts it, “besides the energy-intensive exploration of the geographical world, pictures, films, and sounds have been and are the spaces into which we can escape… The projector is the flamethrower, the space is the vortex and you are the pearl within.”
Since 1984, Rist has had countless solo and group exhibitions, and video screenings worldwide. Her recent solo exhibitions include the site-specific installation Hand Me Your Trust on the M+ Facade, Hong Kong (2023); Behind Your Eyelid at Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong (2022); Big Heartedness, Be My Neighbor at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (The Museum of Contemporary Art), Los Angeles (2021–2022); Your Eye Is My Island at MoMAK (The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto) and Art Tower Mito (2021); Åbn min Lysning (Open my Glade) at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk (2019); Sip My Ocean at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney (2017–2018); Pixel Forest at New Museum, New York (2016 – 2017); and Your Saliva is My Diving Suit of the Ocean of Pain at Kunsthaus Zürich (2016), all resulted in record-breaking attendance numbers for each institution.