interview with pipilotti rist as major exhibit opens at the louisiana museum of modern art
 

interview with pipilotti rist as major exhibit opens at the louisiana museum of modern art

sensual, sensory, and multi-format macrocosms are the specific speciality of swiss artist pipilotti rist. for the past thirty years, rist has forged an introspective investigation of the moving image, working across a broad spectrum of video technologies whose conventions and limitations she both explores and explodes. taking a painterly and sculptural approach to the video medium, rist interweaves a range of formats and themes to merge imagery within often psychedelic, symbolic spaces.

 

from now through june 23, 2019, the louisiana museum of modern art in denmark is presenting the first comprehensive production of the artist in scandinavia: åbn min lysning (open my glade).


installation view ‘4th floor to mildness’, 2016 | photo by poul buchard brøndum & co.
all images courtesy the artist, hauser & wirth and luhring augustine

 

 

the exhibition at louisiana brings together a number of rist’s video sculptures, wallpapers, textile works, and immersive installations. the exhibition is organized as a non-chronological sequence of spaces inspired by the logic of the home, where each room bears its own functions, objects and spirit. the idea that the louisiana actually originated as a private home, and that its founder, knud w. jensen, wanted to create a museum model with a domestic sensibility, has been one of the exhibition’s launching points. at åbn min lysning (open my glade), visitors are invited inside the artist’s universe, whose continuous strands interweave through the entire show. 

 

in an interview with designboom, rist speaks about the exhibition, her early fascinations with video as a medium, the role of an artist in society today, and her fears for the future of humanity.


installation view ‘4th floor to mildness’, 2016 | photo by poul buchard brøndum & co.

 

 

designboom (DB): what first drew you to video as a medium, at the beginning? was the novelty of experimental video art a catalyst for your early investigations?

 

pipilotti rist (PR): when I initially produced stage sets for music bands with painting, super-8 and slides, video was like a release that made me more potent and independent. I visited the video class to have access to the machines, and earned a living in a video studio of the chemical industry where I was allowed to use the machines during the night for my freestyle work. in general, I love technology and machines — above all, they are carrying the souls of their inventors in themselves. 


still from ‘4th floor to mildness’

 

 

DB: what aspects of your background and upbringing have shaped your creative principles and philosophies?

 

PR: both of my parents were anti-elitarian and nature-, culture- and people-loving. my father — a general medical doctor — skinned guinea pigs with us five siblings, and brought premature dead babies home so that we could look at them closely. we also had to help him out in practice, which was a big influence on my worshipping of creative principles.


installation view of multiple works at louisiana museum of modern art | photo by poul buchard brøndum & co.

 

 

DB: how do you view the evolution of your work since you first started as an artist?

 

PR: my work is less ‘one-liner’, like ‘ever is overall’ — you can explain it in one sentence: a person is wandering down the street and smashes car windows with a flower as if it were the most natural thing. my work gradually took on more layers and can be perceived on more levels — intellectually, emotionally and physically — as I tend to welcome all senses and the whole body of a potential spectator.


installation view of multiple works at louisiana museum of modern art | photo by poul buchard brøndum & co.

 

 

DB: how did the technical conditions change?

 

PR: as in most fields of activity, technological development has changed processes. but you’re right — in the electronic image and sound displays, the changes were enormous. as all tasks became mainly software-based, machines became more accessible and democratic, and also lighter. I like to tickle out all that is possible from a machine and take it to the limits.


installation view of multiple works at louisiana museum of modern art | photo by poul buchard brøndum & co.

 

 

DB: what do you hope audiences take away from your work? are there certain themes you hope your work provokes discussion about?

 

PR: I aim for the visitor to see and embrace the poetic in the electromagnetic overflow, accept and enjoy ambiguity and paradox. when they leave, they are spiritually refreshed, stirred up, have reconciled instincts and reason, are wiser and milder with themselves, have seen new phenomena, have mirrored and recognized themselves in the work, realized once again that they have more in common than they do different. they have watched other visitors with interest, met strangers and discussed with them.


installation view of multiple works at louisiana museum of modern art | photo by poul buchard brøndum & co.

 

 

PR (continued): the current exhibition in the louisiana museum is designed as a collective apartment that resembles the inside of a scull. the exhibition is an antidote to the white cube. although, untenably, museums’s white cubes actually look also like contemporary apartments — at least in the western world, don’t they?


installation view ‘do not abandon me again’, 2015, projection on bed
and ‘prisma’, 2011, masked projection on oil painting
photo by poul buchard brøndum & co.

 

 

DB: what are you currently fascinated by, and how is it feeding into your artistic practice?

 

PR: I am constantly researching practically and medically about our nervous system and its balance between parasympaticus and sympaticus, where hearing and sight of a possible electromagnetic waves spectrum is my focus. also ‘water’ with its more than 200 anomalies is my other speciality. I adore scientific knowledge that was brought together by humankind over long periods and accelerated in the last couple of hundred years. I love language, and its etymologies and wordplays. to work with the smart and fun tine colstrup, my curator at louisiana, will influence me forever. and my longterm ‘wow’ is the development and success of the students at the asian university for women in bangladesh.


installation view ‘pixel forest’, 2016 | video installation, exploded screen with 3000 addressed LED, 2019
photo by poul buchard brøndum & co.

 

 

DB: what are the creative strategies you adopt when working?

 

PR: they vary from work to work because I believe changing strategies is good for the brain. my work swirls between technical knowledge and materializing the mysterious. as music, colors and its movements can play directly to the subconsciousness. my strategy is that the camera is never dominating the filmed objects, which I achieve with super macro handheld travelling at high speed. in general, I love working with various lists. I am doing and understanding all working steps, including the technical, and work only with very few longterm relations. in creation, I do not work very labor divided and believe in small structures because I am looking for the unknown. therefor I practice a lot of experiments with trial and error.


installation view ‘pixel forest’, 2016 | video installation, exploded screen with 3000 addressed LED, 2019
photo by poul buchard brøndum & co.

 

 

DB: across a mix of mediums — video, audio, sculpture, site-specific installation — what is the common thread that underpins your work overall?

 

PR: comfort and melancholy, but I am also offering alternatives to technical standards and purpose poetic organization of the omnipresent electro-humming. I am helping to pay attention to different light temperatures. I search and offer reflection of the archetypal emotions and insights, awareness flashes in our dealing with technologies. remember while you are reading this, you’re looking at a plastic surface containing organized and addressed liquids pixels behind. as you know, if we spit on it, we see them enlarged and in the three basic colors, which mirror our cones and rods on the retina.


installation view ‘vorstadthirn (suburb brain)’, 1999 | photo by kim hansen

 

 

DB: what do you think is the role of an artist in society today?

 

PR: some of my esteemed artist colleagues use their art to draw attention to grievances, where I and others have consciously decided to speak of more archetypical issues and materialize subconscious images and forms for moods. there are many different roles artists fulfill on different levels, which do not contradict each other. artists have to research possibilities, propose identities and help sharpen senses.


still from ‘vorstadthirn (suburb brain)’

 

 

PR (continued): if i could bring up a political rule, each new baby born would get a personal artist as a godmother or godfather. the artist would accompany the baby and the family, realize installations in their apartment, get paid by them, and would also visit and study culture and nature together with them.


installation view ‘hiplights (or enlighted hips)’, 2011, at the sculpture garden, louisiana museum of modern art
photo by kim hansen

 

 

DB: what are you afraid of regarding the future? what are you optimistic about?

 

PR: of course I am fearing and fighting global warming with its natural and human consequences. I try to reduce flying and compensate at southpole.com. I am afraid of divided information bubbles. I’m researching how electronic light and the information it carries can bring us together, whereas it is often separating us. we have to try to understand people with other opinions and fight arrogance in general. I am optimistic because of the many young people who are committed to environmental protection and the discussion of political solutions.


installation view ‘hiplights (or enlighted hips)’, 2011, at the sculpture garden, louisiana museum of modern art
photo by kim hansen

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

    PRODUCT LIBRARY

    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    art news

    ×
    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    492,664 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample