Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth - Zuric & London
Gravity be my friend (2007)
We're all a little screen-centric. The glut of computers, televisions and smart phones reinforces a propensity for mediated looking. Meanwhile, the flood of four-dimensional stimuli, often vapid and ignorable, has neutralised our attention spans and strengthened our visual filters.
Swiss video-artist Pipilotti Rist embraces our habits of snip-snap looking (or ignoring) with sensual multi-media installations that are visually-rich, but do not demand focused attention.You can jump in or jump out of Rist's looping videos and installations at any time. Speaking in our visual lingua franca (the multi-sensory experience of bright colours, changing speed and montage that is the television, cinema and advertising standard) she captures an audience with the familiar. And, most of the time, sets out hammocks or tremendous cushions to give her audience an at-home feeling.
Whereas it is certainly ‘art’ as opposed to ‘not-art’, Rist's work fuzzes the line between visual art and popular culture. Sometimes criticised for being too easy, too simple, too happy, too fluffy, too MTV, Rist justifies her low-pressure art zones with her desire to bring the average person back to the art gallery. She fears the rift between art and the rest of the world, and creates work that is ultimately accessible, even kind, to its viewers. The comparisons to music videos or adverts are not only justified, but accurate. In other words, don't expect to be philosophically challenged as much as aesthetically massaged.
That said, there's a deeper poetry and humanity in Rist's joy-centric fantasy-scapes. She explores gender, sexuality and the human body through gentle non-aggressive means. And, when combined with lush soundscapes, unusual movement and exaggerated colouration, the ideas come through easily, without alienating the viewer.
For the next few months, Rist brings her imagined happy place to Catalunya. Winner of the 2009 Joan Miró prize, Rist has prepared a two-part exhibition, 'Friendly Game–Electronic Feeling'. The prize, which aims to honour the work of a contemporary artist, was awarded by an international jury who lauded Rist for her "wide-ranging creative activity and her outstanding contribution to the current artistic scene." And after more than 20 years at it, she certainly has made a mark as an artist who can turn even the coldest of galleries into a womb-like cradle.
On accepting her prize, Rist acknowledged the important work of Joan Miró, citing the influence of the Catalan artist on her creative development. A clear signature of her idealism and pragmatic optimism, Rist dedicated her prize "to all the people who take care of others for free, to all the good teachers and to the people who give smiles to strangers on the street and in the trains." I'll be keeping a look out for an unexplained rise in friendly faces.
Partit amistós—sentiments electrònics—Pipilotti Rist
Fundació Joan Miró
From July 8th to November 1st