Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest at The New Museum

Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest at the New Museum
Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest at the New Museum

I first encountered the work of Pipilotti Rist when I was 12 years old on an excursion to the MoMa with my parents. The show was called “Pour Your Body Out” and featured various videos of Rist’s pale nude body, lush garden imagery, and if I remember correctly, a teacup pig.I remember how enthralled I was by Rist’s fantastical moving images and it was that particular show that sparked my passion for contemporary art. Born in Switzerland, Rist studied various mediums including photography, graphic arts, and illustration at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria and audiovisual communications at the Basel School of Design. Her rich and diverse body of work has been featured in solo exhibitions all over the world from London to Seoul and has received notable accolades such as the Joan Miro Prize in 2009 and the Zurich Festival Prize in 2013. Rist’s work is at once provocative and innocent and celebrates the female body in all of its glory. On my recent visit to “Pixel Forest” at the New Museum on the Bowery, Rists’s feminist message resonated even more with me as I grew enchanted with her impressive and exhaustive body of work.

Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest at the New Museum
Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest at the New Museum

“Pixel Forest” is a multi-sensory three floor exhibition that celebrates Rist’s fascinating thirty year- career and features hypnotizing videos, music, and even a sculpture made entirely out of off-white undergarments that speak to Rist’s ethereal and almost surreal aesthetic and spirit. As you ascend the floors of the exhibit, you will find yourself lost in Rist’s magical and intimate universe of naturalistic imagery and twinkling lights. Every floor of the Pixel Forest has pillows or beds for spectators to relax on and enjoy Rist’s kaleidoscopic films. The second floor features  some of Rist’s earliest works, including various single channel videos that she produced during the 1980’s and gave her a name in the art world. Rist’s “big break” was the now-iconic video “I’m Not the Girl Who Misses Much”(1986)  Two other films “Ever is Over All”(1997) and “Sip My Ocean”(1996) are projected onto the big screen. In “Ever is Over All”, a woman in a blue dress and red slippers struts down the street smashing cars with a red hot poker that resembles a long-stemmed flower. This aggressive visual is brilliantly juxtaposed with delicate images of flowers in a field. Those familiar with Beyonce’s music video “Hold Up” will instantly recognize the image of an elegant woman smashing cars in broad daylight.  In addition to serving as inspiration for pop culture, “Ever is Over All” is a gorgeous representation of femininity, the flower symbolizing both female fragility and power.  The next video, “Sip My Ocean,” is a psychedelic and erotic trip through the ocean floor which also features shots of Rist in a bikini and various sinking objects. Both of these videos are simultaneously tranquil and thought provoking. Prepare to be literally dazzled by the third floor, which is even more immersive than the second. Anyone with an Instagram account is already familiar with “Looking Through Pixel Forest” (2016), Rist’s stunning LED light installation that illuminates the third floor and hangs opposite two of Rist’s videos from 2014. These 3000 handmade globes do not just contain pretty lights, but are lit up with actual pixels from the videos, allowing for Rist’s work to take over every crevice of the room. It is quite tempting to linger in the Pixel Forest as long as possible and watch the crystal-like globes change color.

Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest at the New Museum
Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest at the New Museum

If you ever make it out of the Forest, head up to the “Fourth Floor of Mildness”  where you will be asked to remove your shoes before climbing into a bed (perhaps with a stranger) to enjoy more serene videos. After the overwhelming sensory experience of “Pixel Forest,”  this is a delightful and soothing treat. “Pixel Forest” is a wonderful tribute to Rist’s prolific career and perfectly captures her progressive embrace of technology, her profound statements on gender roles, and above all her passion and joy in her craft. The next video, “Sip My Ocean,” is a psychedelic and erotic trip through the ocean floor which also features shots of Rist in a bikini and various sinking objects. Both of these videos are simultaneously tranquil and thought provoking. Prepare to be literally dazzled by the third floor, which is even more immersive than the second. Anyone with an Instagram account is already familiar with “Looking Through Pixel Forest” (2016), Rist’s stunning LED light installation that illuminates the third floor and hangs opposite two of Rist’s videos from 2014. These 3000 handmade globes do not just contain pretty lights, but are lit up with actual pixels from the videos, allowing for Rist’s work to take over every crevice of the room. It is quite tempting to linger in the Pixel Forest as long as possible and watch the crystal-like globes change color. If you ever make it out of the Forest, head up to the “Fourth Floor of Mildness”  where you will be asked to remove your shoes before climbing into a bed (perhaps with a stranger) to enjoy more serene videos. After the overwhelming sensory experience of “Pixel Forest,”  this is a delightful and soothing treat. “Pixel Forest” is a wonderful tribute to Rist’s prolific career and perfectly captures her progressive embrace of technology, her profound statements on gender roles, and above all her passion and joy in her craft.

“Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest” will  continue through Jan. 8 at the New Museum, 235 Bowery, Manhattan; 212-219-1222, newmuseum.com. The museum is open Tuesday & Wednesday from 11am-6pm, Thursday from 11 am-9pm, and Friday-Sunday from 11am-6pm.

Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest at the New Museum
Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest at the New Museum
Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest at the New Museum
Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest at the New Museum
Shoshana Edelman

Shoshana Edelman

Shoshana Edelman is an arts and culture writer with a passion for travel, fashion, and adventure. She has written several articles for the blog, ArtVersed, including exhibition reviews and artist interviews. Shoshana also has experience in the entertainment industry and the advertising industry and spent this past summer coordinating and developing a high school internship at Y&R/RedFuse New York. When she isn’t writing about art, Shoshana studies at New York University and will graduate in 2018 with a BA in French and a double minor in Art History and Dance. Shoshana aspires to live and work in Paris, France and continue to write for various publications.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial