in praise of: Pipilotti Rist

Rist’s website:

Video artist Pipilotti Rist had a huge show in London’s Hayward gallery this season and it is fabulous. I had seen bits of her work but was not prepared for the sensorial overload of delight that was “eyeball massage” a show that definitely lives up to its name.

my eyeball being massaged by Pipilotti Rist's amazing show

I want to praise Rist for two principal things: she is the sole author of her work. In an era when so many artists, especially moving image artists, don’t take any technical control of the tools (cameras, editing etc.) Rist is fully hands on. She is in charge of her work, does much of the technical stuff and the result is a real singularity of vision that is complete and fulfilled. It is a heady, hallucinatory artistic space she offers us, one soaked in colour where the visceral realities of the body mingle with the natural world and the constructed environment into one strange and unsettling yet oddly – and paradoxically – comfortable whole.

The second thing I want to praise Rist for is her devotion to video art. Video is what she does, she is devoted to it and in her hands video is an ever expanding constantly enlightening creative medium. Her video is embedded in the floor, part of sculpture, immersive projection or tiny as a pinhead. Video art is often maligned and usually deservedly so (see my article but in Rist’s capable hands it is rich, thrilling and mature, a medium that creates wonder, delight, fright and the gamut of emotions. And it is utterly, unreservedly beautiful.

I was so astonished by Rist’s show that I will go and see it again before it closes, simply to soak myself in it and emerge inspired and refreshed by colour and light.

Here’s a really good review of the show by Anneka French