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pipilotti rist: the tender room
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jun 01, 2011
pipilotti rist: the tender room


pipilotti rist: the tender room
wexner center for the arts, columbus, ohio, USA
on now through july 31st, 2011

pipilotti rist: the tender room, 2011
audiovisual installation
installation view, wexner center for the arts, ohio state university
courtesy pipilotti rist, hauser & wirth, and luhring augustine, new york
image © kevin fitzsimons

‘the tender room’ multimedia installation, created by swiss-born, switzerland and LA-based artist pipilotti rist
for ohio state university’s wexner center for the arts, brings together video, sculpture, and the light and dynamics of the gallery
in an exhibition that dissolves the boundaries between interior and exterior and emphasizes the human body, emotional impulses,
and the possibilities of public space.

in stark contrast to the controlled, dark black-box spaces typical of video installation, ‘the tender room’ was designed specifically
for the wexner center, to create an immersive space that celebrates not only the existing architecture but also the people
who at any moment occupy it. ‘it’s always been a goal [of mine]‘ explains rist, ‘to take this cold, technical media [of video]
and make it warm, to reject the divide between the organic and the mechanical. to me the two overlap quite a bit,
since the machines were all built by humans.
‘ 

visitors to the center first enter a vestibule that opens on its far side to the main gallery. the entire space is cast in rosy pink light,
an effect of the multicoloured array of pixel-like squares of red, blue, yellow, and green translucent film, covering the gridded windows
of the north and east walls and glass ceiling.

installed in this first, smaller space, is ‘cape cod chandelier’, a chandelier-like sculpture assembled from the collected undergarments
of rist’s friends and family and upon which silent but richly coloured video is projected. stepping left into the main gallery,
visitors are confronted with ‘the tender room’ multichannel video installation.

 


view of the projection panels in the main gallery space
image © kevin fitzsimons


the six fabric panels serving as sites for video projection are free-hanging, moving slightly with the drafts caused by the movement of visitors
image © kevin fitzsimons



the colourful panels on the room’s wall and ceiling are squares of coloured film that rist placed over the grid of windows, obscuring enough light 
to enable the viewing of the video works, while still tying the space to the larger environment and the shifts of time, sunlight, and weather
image © kevin fitzsimons

edited from the same footage that produced rist’s full-length film ‘pepperminta’ and the video installation ‘pour your body out’
for new york’s museum of modern art, ‘the tender room’ video projections juxtapose images of the young woman pepperminta
and the natural world, from flowers and grass to ocean life, sensual encounters, and the wanderings of a boar. 
 
the images are projected onto six fabric panels, free-hanging at diverse angles and subject to the drafts of visitors walking by.
bathed in natural light, even if filtered by the coloured foils, the entire room is likewise subject to the weather of the outdoors,
creating a liminal space that registers at once as both open and public and intimately private. the lush colour and abstracted images
of the installation extend this metaphor to the individual, in a gallery setting altogether designed to abolish boundaries of space
and psyche, and encourage an active, collective mode of viewing.
 
curator for the center chris bedford reflects:
around most installations, irrespective of media, one can draw a clearly defined perimeter to establish where the work ends
and real life begins again. in this case, however, the relationship of the installation to the outside world, mediated and made
possible by the treated windows, makes the gallery seem strangely limitless, connecting it to the boundlessness beyond.


‘cape cod chandelier’, 2011
installation view, wexner center for the arts, ohio state university
courtesy pipilotti rist, hauser & wirth, and luhring augustine, new york
image © kevin fitzsimons

this same interest in dissolving boundaries and showcasing what is normally concealed or unspoken
is at work in ‘cape cod chandelier’, about which rist elaborates:
 
I like to surprise people with their reactions to these chandeliers. under-trousers cover the exits for the body’s garbage,
so seeing them placed centrally in a room, giving off light, causes some people to think, ugh! that’s underwear!
but others find underwear sexy. the chandeliers bridge the contradictions between the things we ignore and the things
we long for, the places we come from and want to go back into.


detail view of ‘cape cod chandelier’

image © kevin fitzsimons


‘solution for man’, 2011
installation view, wexner center for the arts, ohio state university
courtesy pipilotti rist, hauser & wirth, and luhring augustine, new york
image © kevin fitzsimons

installed on the ceilings of the men’s and women’s restrooms in the gallery, ‘solution for man’ and ‘solution for woman’
video feeds again play with the notions of public and private space, extending the presence of art in general
and of ‘the tender room’ in particular to our normally most solitary and mundane moments.
 
acting in foil to this private installation is rist’s earlier work ‘open my glade (flatten)’. originally broadcast in times square,
the piece here is projected onto a windowed surface adjacent to the center’s entrance, such that the footage of rist’s face
pressed against the video surface makes her larger-than-life image appear trapped within the gallery.


‘solution for woman’, 2011
installation view, wexner center for the arts, ohio state university
courtesy pipilotti rist, hauser & wirth, and luhring augustine, new york
image © kevin fitzsimons

on ‘the tender room’ installation as a whole, rist states:
 
I like the idea of this large, empty room, on one side the architectural space is a manifestation of power, as if to say,
‘look at this space we are capable of creating.’ but with this installation, the message changes to, ‘look, we made this room all for you.’
museums and galleries are not private spaces but public ones, meant to be collectively experienced. there should be a feeling of comfort
and ease in the space– people can meet, interact, and watch the videos together. so it’s both in one, a representation of power
and also of sweet tenderness, based on the impulses humans have to help each other, play, and adapt. in the end, the meaning
of this room is the story of what people do there. I like to create environments where visitors are the most important element.


‘the tender room’, 2011

audiovisual installation (video still)

courtesy pipilotti rist, hauler & writhe, and luring augustine, new york


‘the tender room’, 2011

audiovisual installation (video still)

courtesy pipilotti rist, hauler & writhe, and luring augustine, new york

‘the tender room’ is on exhibition at the wexner center alongside ‘double sexus’, featuring the works of hans bellmer and louise bourgeois, 
and ‘human behavior’, exhibiting the dark claymation films of nathalie djurberg with music by hans berg. sherri geldin, director of the center,
explains, ‘we conceived the trio of shows as a very loosely constructed meditation on the human form and particularly the powers,
pleasures, and punishments of human sexuality.

‘the tender room’ exhibition details:

‘the tender room’, 2011
audiovisual installation with
three projections, sound system, foils on windows, and seating elements
dimensions
variable

‘cape cod chandelier’, 2011
video installation (silent) with two players, one translucent central light bulb, 
and two projections on chandelier made of clean, previously worn underpants
96 x 61 inches (244 x 155 cm)

‘solution for man’, 2011
video installation (silent) with LCD screen, flashcard player
9.25 x 5.25 x 6.5 inches (23.5 x 13.3 x 16.5 cm)

‘solution for woman’, 2011
video installation (silent) with LCD screen, flashcard player
9.25 x 5.25 x 6.5 inches (23.5 x 13.3 x 16.5 cm)

‘open my glade (flatten)’, 2000
video installation (silent)
9 minutes, 3 seconds

all works exhibited courtesy of pipilotti rist, hauser & wirth, and luhring augustine


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