Pipilotti Rist at the New Museum

Elisabeth Charlotte Rist, owes her nom de plume to the mélange of her nickname Lotti, diminutive of Charlotte, and the character of Pippi Longstockings. The chimerical artist has the ability of being provocatively sensual, avoiding vulgarity, with a touch of childhood wonder and reverie. Pipilotti’s works sweep you into a bewitching voyage to a topsy-turvy land where dreams are made of.

Through her artwork you will enter a world of wonder, a kaleidoscopic journey that blends all senses into a fantabulous synesthetic experience. This is the effect that usually is triggered by the Swiss Artist, who over the past thirty years has achieved international recognition as a pioneer of video art and multimedia installations. Her solo exhibitions have been hosted in venues of the highest prestige, such as the MoMa in New York, The Hayward Gallery in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Venice Biennale.

The artist welds the natural world with technologically sublime images, through hypnotizing  projections that she refers to as “glorification of the wonder of evolution.” In fact, Pipilotti Rist truly does catapult art-goers in a realm of marvelous bewilderment. Through her infantine vision, supported by great artistry and technological preparation, she maintains a deep sense of curiosity that pervades her study of both the physical and psychological phenomena. Rist seems to find the connection between ideas and senses known as Ideasthesia.

This is exactly what the exhibition Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest accomplishes in the three main floors of the New Museum. This marks the first New York survey of the work of this pioneering artist, with works that envelop her entire career. This is a comprehensive presentation of Rist’s work from her early videos of the eighties, where she explores the female body in popular culture, to her recent expansive installations that transform architectural spaces into oneiric environments lulled by tantalizing music scores.

The exhibit, curated by Massimiliano Gioni, also reveals connections between diverse devices that epitomize Pipilotti Rist’s art and evolution of contemporary technologies, ranging from the television monitor to the cinema screen, all the way up to smartphones. This communal experience of immersive images and sounds, charts a Lewis Caroll-esque ecstatic and non-sensical Odyssey through the mind and senses. Rist’s mise-en-scène truly evokes the one of the English author of Through The Looking-Glass (whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), and just as the mathematician-writer, the Swiss artist builds a Cartesian structure to create an apparently fortuitous stream-of-consciousness.

The Jabberwocky of projections and installations starts on the lobby of the New Museum, with the single channel video installation Open My Glade (Flatten) that is the face (literally!) of the show, and will be on view in Times Square from 11:57 p.m. to midnight every night throughout January 2017 as part of Midnight Moment, a monthly presentation by the Times Square Advertising Coalition and Times Square Arts. Also featured on the ground floor is a metal housing containing several materials, from tanks to electronic timing elements, that compose Nothing.

The second floor is composed by transparent drapes where several of the Pipilotti Rist’s  art videos are projected, allowing visitors to traverse this enchanted universe of moving images. The featured works include: I’m Not The Girl Who Misses Much, Sexy Sad I, Japsen, Absolutions (Pipilotti’s Mistakes), You Called Me Jacky,  When My Mother’s Brother Was Born It Smelled Like Wild Pear Blossom in Front of the Brown-Burnt Still, Pimple Porno, Sip My Ocean, Ever Is Over All, Suburb Brain, The Innocent Collection, Administrating Eternity, The Patience.

Furthermore, on the third floor one may walk through the space, that is entirely covered with dangling luminous snowflaky decorations that hang from the ceiling, the so called “Pixel Forest” that titles the entire exhibit. Entering this room can’t help but wow any visitor, who will experience what Gene Wilder in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, would have defined in song as “a world of pure imagination.” Also very enjoyable is the cheeky and wacky video installation made using washed underpants, called Massachusetts Chandelier. Just as enticing are the picture projections of Mutaflor, Mercy Garden, Worry Will Vanish Horizon, and the pieces on the Stairwell Gallery, Selfless In The Bath of Lava and Come Again Soon.

The exhibit culminates on the fourth floor, with Your Space Capsule and 4th Floor To Mildness, where Pipilotti projects video footage shot largely underwater, onto two screens hanging from the ceiling that can be enjoyed by visitors who may lay on beds scattered throughout the space, to have a full immersion in this stupefying cosmos.

Whether you are just getting acquainted with Pipilotti Rist’s world or you are aware that she is amongst the most acclaimed contemporary artists, you will equally be captivated by her visionary perception. This contemporary Alice in Wonderland has the ability of creating mesmerizing works which envelop viewers and plunges them into a world of fantasy, reconnecting them with the purest and remotest childhood dreams.