Pipilotti Rist brings joy to Guangzhou
The Swiss artist's Gentle Wave in Your Eye Fluid exhibition has just opened in China's manufacturing heartland
When an artist compares her work to the contents of a handbag, you can be sure she isn't taking herself too seriously. And yet Pipilotti Rist's memorable description of her video installations being handbag-like because "there is room in them for everything: painting, technology, language, music, movement, lousy flowing pictures, poetry, commotion, premonitions of death, sex and friendliness" is enlightening too. Her art is packed full of joyously colourful, cosmically sexual and scatological imagery, and yet her work is also notable for what it lacks. There's none of the dour solemnity or willful obscurity all too common in a gallery setting. Little wonder Peter Schjeldahl, writing in the New Yorker, characterised her as "an evangelist for happiness."
Lest Ms Rist's message become caught behind a language barrier, the Swiss artist drew a fun set of horizontal lipstick stripes onto her face prior to the press call for her latest exhibition at the Times Museum in Guangzhou last Saturday.
"Artists have to give some of their flesh", said Rist by way of explanation in an interview with ArtInfo. "If you're going to ask people to look at something you've made you should make sure they get something out of it."
Yet few visitors to her new show, Gentle Wave in Your Eye Fluid, could possibly leave feeling short changed. This set of installations and video works are typically fun, life affirming and immersive. The main new piece, Mercy Mercy, a 13-projector, 75-metre long video work that runs the length of the gallery's main space, is a bright, sensual work, showing flowers, tongues and fingers in extreme close-up.
The show also includes her 2011 Cape Cod Chandelier, a huge lampshade fashioned from used underwear. Rist venerates our abdomens as sacred, as "the centre of sexual pleasure and the location of the exits of the body's garbage."
Meanwhile, she has also installed a set of colourful, simple lamps or Innocent Lanterns in the museum's garden, extending the show outdoors.
It sounds like a typically pleasurable, vital exhibition from Ms Rist. We hope some of the workers in Guangzhou, one of China's most industrially productive regions, find a little spare leisure time to visit. Find out more about the exhibition here. For greater insight into Ms Rist's life and work, please take a look at our great career overview, which includes an interview between Pipilotti and Hans Ulrich Obrist, and much else besides.