EX: 1/30/2012
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2012.03.22 Thu, by Translated by: 顾灵
Possible Pleasure
Using Pipilotti Rist’s recent show as a counterpoint, Iona Whittaker asks where is the fun in Minsheng Museum’s video art retrospective?
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“Eyeball Massage” surveyed Rist’s oeuvre to date. The first room juxtaposed a luminescent “chandelier” composed of frumpy white knickers (perhaps a play on illuminating the ordinary) and a miniature, box-like suburban home laid out on the floor complete with reddish internal lights, a little mower on the lawn, etc. The back wall was a blanched collage of household items and packaging — egg boxes, polystyrene fillers, t-shirts. An ephemeral layer alighted via mobile projections swimming over the walls and installations, animating the objects’ surfaces. There were fixed projections here, too — a small one onto the wall of the model house and another in which the artist remarks on relationships from the passenger seat of a car — but their narratives dissolve against the psychedelic environment. As befitting the exhibition’s title, images and coloured light caressed the fringe of vision in the corners of the eyes.

展览场景: Pipilotti Rist: “眼部按摩”, Hayward 画廊。 “Administrating Eternity” (2011). [摄影: Linda Nylind]

The setting Rist creates is often immersive, less accessible to those who refuse to give way to her particular brand of optical lube than to non-initiates of video art practice (no bar to enjoyment here – not so chez Minsheng). One room was rendered like a tank for floating imagery and sound. Thin white drapes (Rist’s fabled “image-carriers”) caught projections of glistening beards, big masticating lips and goats in pastures. Rist’s camera-eye zooms unflinchingly towards and around its subjects, casting the viewer into a hyper-reality wherein inward sensations seem to meld with sensory information. Visitors were encouraged to recline on the floor, padded by surreal stuffed trousers and jumpers left lying about, and bask in Rist’s dilated, drooling world. For her, the way to viewers’ hearts is through their eyes, ears and stomachs; her project is to galvanize our guts with sound and images. There’s even a shot of her anus at one point, which just goes to show there are no holes barred.

展览场景。 Pipilotti Rist: “眼部按摩”, Hayward 画廊。 “Selfless In the Bath of Lava (《忘我地熔岩浴》)(1994). [摄影: Linda Nylind]

But it is the second space that really intrigued, where the artist’s will to flex the possibilities of projection generated an optical phantasmagoria. “Suck it and see,” she seemed to whisper from amongst the assembled audio-visual amuse-bouches; were we to take a bite out of the meal Minseng made of Chinese video art, chances are we’d crack a tooth. Shells and handbags became vehicles for tiny LED monitors in “Yoghurt on Skin — Velvet on TV” (2009); a spherical screen sardonically suspended in a yellow swimming costume emitted internal images of the digestive system. For “Selfless in the Bath of Lava” (1994) a tiny Rist, naked and consumed by magmatic graphics, shouted theatrically from a pinhole in the floor. In a booth created by a curve of cellophane panels (like Richard Serra gone porno), one was invited to take a seat so that itinerant projections could appear on your lap — an insect’s eye view of the countryside. “I’m Not the Girl Who Misses Much,” a fast-forward video of 1986 wherein a topless, gyrating Rist sings that same Beatles line over and over (you wouldn’t catch Wang Jianwei doing that), was hidden in a surreal sharp pyramid protruding horizontally from the wall; in a masterpiece of awkward — and somehow intimate — intrigue, it demanded that one stuck one’s head up through one of two holes cut in its underside to watch. Linking these and further installations within an overall schema were vivid cobalt discs of light roaming the floor, fibrous and plastic screens demarcating separate nodes and a deadpan, mesmeric hum that underpinned it all.

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