Pipilotti Rist

Artist Pipilotti Rist courtesy of Scalar

Pipilotti Rist is a Swiss visual artist known for her video art and installations. Her artworks are often described as surreal, intimate, and abstract art focused on the female body, which falls under the category of feminist art. Her work “pushes boundaries between video and the built environment, exploiting new technologies to create installations that fuse the natural world with the electronic sublime.”

Two of her well-known artworks are currently installed at Museum of Fine Arts Houston,  titled Pixel Forest and Worry Will Vanish, which are available for the public to see for the cost of $10 per person and a free admission for children under 12 years old. Pixel Forest is Rist’s installation of about 3,000 hanging LED lights. Each light is covered in resin spheres while suspended from the ceiling. The forest lights are signaled to constantly change along the video installment, Worry Will Vanish. Visitors are encouraged to walk through the hanging lights, which she described as “a digital image that has exploded in space.” Worry Will Vanish is Rist’s second artwork on display. This video installation puts visitors in a trance as they journey from natural landscape to the internal part of the human body. Visitors are also encouraged to grab a bean bag and lay down while watching her enchanted video and listening to the sound surrounding the room.

By Janine

Fortunately, I had the privilege to witness Rist’s enchanted world for the second time. The first time I went to see her work at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston was in 2017, when I was initially invited by a friend. When I went for the first time, I was young and unaware of who Rist was and her artworks. However, when I saw her work for the first time, I was definitely in awe. I remember being amazed by the suspended lights that surrounded me. I felt like I was in a fantastical land. After taking a couple of pictures and videos of the lights, my friends and I proceeded to the carpeted section of the installation and grabbed a bean bag for us to share. Looking back, I honestly do not recall if it was the same video I saw recently. Six years later, Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest and Worry Will Vanish returned to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

Having an opportunity to visit Rist’s installations at MFAH, I started my fantasy journey through the Pixel Forest and walked through the hanging lights. From afar, the hanging lights looked like stars or other galaxies in this vast universe, as if each light was its own solar system. As I approached the installation, it was as if each light were pulsating, keeping the Pixel Forest alive and magical.And as you are walking around this magical forest, I hear birds chirping in the background or the sound of a river nearby. After a few minutes of strolling around the Pixel Forest, I grabbed a bean bag to sit on and watch the video art. I noticed that the hanging lights followed the color scheme of the video. Say, if the screen shows a green landscape, then the hanging lights would turn shades of green. It is beautiful to see that even though these are two separate pieces; they function as one big installation.

By Janine
Lights at event by Janine

The video takes you on a journey you would never expect. It reminds me of what my dreams are often like. Have you ever had a dream where you are in one place then you are in another afterwards? Like you don’t remember how you got there? Additionally, there is something that makes sense in the dream but doesn’t make sense in real life? Well, the video is pretty similar to that. One moment you are overlooking a scenery and next thing you know, you are exploring the inside of someone’s anatomy; journeying through their internal organs, and you are not quite sure how you got there. The video has this powerful way of putting people in a trance, maybe because of the natural sounds in the background and the dark room filled with hanging lights, but it sure does the job of making your head tilt a bit and maybe question your own reality.

Overall, it was a magical installation for all ages. If you want to step away from your reality or even dissociate yourself from the world for a bit, Pipilotti Rist’s Pixel Forest and Worry Will Vanish will surely take you to another world where your worries will temporarily vanish. Currently, this installation will be at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston until September 4, 2023.

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