this issue contains
>> Pipilotti Rist at the Hara Museum / Ten Years Deutsche Guggenheim
>> Jeff Wall "Exposure"

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Pipilotti Rist, Selbstlos im Lavabad
(Selfless In The Bath Of Lava), 1994,
installation view at Sammlung Hoffmann, Berlin
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth Zürich London

The "master of image disturbance," as she’s called, seeks to "promote a kind of gentleness between the viewer and him- or herself," as she avers in a conversation with Richard Julin. Her ideal recipient should pay heightened attention to the problems, contradictions, and questions in social and political everyday life, but not in a quarrel with him- or herself (and hence less in quarrel with the world). Rist is certainly not concerned here with moral finger-pointing or rabid self-hatred. For the artist, this constitutes the difference between the feminism of her generation and that of the previous one. Of course she’s a feminist; "that’s a question of honor," as she says to Richard Julin. To her mind, however, feminism’s central question lies primarily in the "struggle for identical rights and wages," as she stated in another interview ten years ago. But her art doesn’t explicitly have to have emancipation and gender questions as its themes.


Pipilotti Rist, Ever Is Over All, 1997,
audio video installation (video still)
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth Zürich London

An ample portion of anarchic wit often helps immeasurably, as Rist demonstrated in her video installation Ever is over all, which she introduced in 1997 for the first time at the Venice Biennale. Now, the dual projection can be seen once again in Tokyo: a young woman in an airy blue summer dress and red pumps à la Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz walks breezily down a street with a long-stemmed gladiola in her hand, humming to herself. The flower soon proves to be robust enough, though, to bash in the windows of the cars parked there: the happy young woman turns out to be a hooligan. Which doesn’t stop the female police officer watching on to greet her amiably. Absurd antics and poetry instead of blandly articulated women’s rage – and despite this, it’s about the very same thing, namely aggression, anger. But also, conversely, about a lust for life, which – when expressed by women – is often considered embarrassing or hysterical. So why not film a video musical with embarrassing women played by one’s self or by a friend?

The call "not to follow rules one doesn’t agree with" that motivated Ever is over all also marks the point of departure for Pipilotti Rist’s current film, in which the female protagonist inherits the task from her grandmother to liberate herself from unnecessary fears. "My aim is to show exuberant alternatives to the habitual," as she admits to Julin. But for this film, exuberant alternatives do not exist.


Pipilotti Rist, Selbstlos im Lavabad
(Selfless In The Bath Of Lava), 1994,
audio video installation (video still)
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth Zürich London

While she was formerly the computer technician, producer, scriptwriter, director, camera- and soundwoman, and actress all in one, she now, as she admits, has to follow the rules of the film business to finance the film. "For the art world, even what the film sector considers a low-budget production is extremely expensive." One should nonetheless count on Rist to undermine the overriding power of the film world by producing illuminating flops and confusing the authority of size and scale.



Pipilotti Rist, Ever Is Over All, 1997,
audio video installation (Video still)
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth Zürich London


In Japan, the most effective example of this will be on show and, despite everything, impossible to miss: a tiny monitor hidden in the floor with one of her best known videos, Selbstlos im Lavabad /Selfless in the Bath of Lava (1994). In this wonderful clip, a naked Pipilotti Rist can be seen swept in a flood of glowing red lava, appealing for help and rescue in German, French, Italian, and English: "I am a worm and you, you are a flower. You would have done everything better. Help me. Excuse me." God knows, not a bad or mean-spirited parody on the Purgatory she is roasting in, probably as a result of the pleasure and lust alluded to in the constant metamorphosis whereby her beautiful red mouth becomes indistinguishable from an anus that is every bit as attractive. The fact that the oscillation between a perfectly aesthetic performance and the provocation of disgust, deformation, and the grotesque does not always appear wholesome and cathartic is also integral to her work. This outrage is best answered with "Karakara" – the Japanese term for the shrill, hysterical, but carefree laughter that lends her Tokyo exhibition its title.

Translation: Andrea Scrima




Pipilotti Rist, Ever Is Over All, 1997,
audio video installation (video still)
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth Zürich London

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