Pipilotti Rist’s exhibition is fully immersive and interactive as soon as you walk through the door. Visitors are encouraged to remove their shoes in the “foyer” before entering the main installation, initiating the interactive nature of the work by increasing your sensory experience of the environment and raising your expectations of what is to come. Some people may feel uneasy with this action, leaving there possessions and walking away. You do so anyway if not with a sense of foreboding. You are presented with a vast, denim curtain hanging from the ceiling and stretching the length of the space. People flocked like sheep to the subtle opening. Once you have breached the barrier created by the curtain you are hit with an environment that is sensory rich and rewarding. The curtain creates a vale to the outside world and with that distances you from your previous worries and experiences and allows you to fully experience the installation without distraction.
Once you have entered the main instillation you are greeted by two large projections covering the left corner of the space. There is no one there to direct you on what to do next, before you lies a carpet scattered with duvets automatically as if by human nature, you lie down on the duvets, copying others and appeasing the function of the duvets. This new position subjects the viewer to a new perspective, that would not have been considered in the absence of the duvets. The duvets themselves allow the viewer to feel comfy with there surrounding, enhancing the relaxing nature of the accompanying music and lighting. By viewing the work from this angle, you feel like you are immersed into Rist’s thoughts, it feels quite inclosed but not claustrophobic, more like you have a personal connection to her world. A world with no boundaries.
The video itself has certain nods to modernism, with the intricate montage of audio, texture and colour, along with the unconventional nature of the way the work is designed to be viewed. Rist manipulates images of the skin, and nature creating a journey inside the human body. The whole thing seems otherworldly and strange, with overlapping textures and images, connecting humanity with nature. This kaleidoscopic effect is enhanced by the added layers made by the shadows of the viewers. Rather than forming a barrier between the viewer and the work which often happens with projections, the fact people shadows appear on the work integrates the viewer into the piece allowing them to feel part of the work.
Rist’s work although containing narrative elements, like the journey through the body, lacks a clear story or character linking to modernist films. Although the journey is a form of narrative this narrative is very subjective and more about the experience tan telling a story. The film lacks a clear subject or character, it does contain some figures but they are void of identity and as result becomes anonymous. Which inhales the experience of relaxation as you don’t get fixed on the narrative or the character.
Upon leaving the exhibition, you feel rejuvenated and relaxed. After a busy day traipsing around London Rist’s work which includes autogenic training elements, is a welcome break from the bustle of the city. This relaxed state is carried with you even after you leave the installation.