Wednesday, January 2, 2013

live our lives out in the gaze of a pretty girl

Pipilotti Rist, I Couldn't Agree With You More (1999)

A brief appreciation of video artist Pipilotti Rist.

I suspect we all could live our lives out in the gaze of a pretty girl. This video makes me feel like I am doing just that. the dream-life outside of her gaze is paused so she can twirl around the supermarket or wherever this is - who cares, actually? We think we see what's going on in her head but its what she's projecting for us to see. For Pipilotti Rist, seeing and being seen are equally active things.

A friend of mine told me her brother's friend was complaining about a sexual encounter he'd had with some girl, that it wasn't good enough or something. Her brother shrugged, "I can't imagine having that issue. I'm just happy to be there." I feel that in this video, and in general.

Rist was all the rage in the late '90s. Sayeth the wiki:
Rist studied at the University of Applied Arts Vienna in Vienna, through 1986. She later studied video at the School of Design (Schule für Gestaltung) in Basel, Switzerland. In 1997, her work was first featured in the Venice Biennial, where she was awarded the Premio 2000 Prize. From 1988 through 1994, she was member of the music bandand performance group Les Reines Prochaines. From 2002 to 2003, she was invited by Professor Paul McCarthy to teach at UCLA as a visiting faculty member.
Pickelporno (1992, likely NSFW but not porny at all) was her claim to fame, a swirly miasma of bodies asea in each other, but I don't know that it holds up as well as the others.  Since the time of these videos, she has made a feature film Pepperminta. The trailer makes me think it might not be what I am looking for, but then my gaze is the one that is subverted and controlled in her work. Still, I like to be submerged in the saturated electric beauty of her projections instead of the boorish ones of my own, so here we go.

Pipilotti Rist, Sip My Ocean (1996, installation view; features her Yoko Ono-ish take on Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game". I am the rare person that uses "Yoko Ono-ish" as a compliment.)

I was excited to come back to the office after the holidays because I have a projector and a wall on which to experience these videos fullscreen with some semblance of the original. These things look great on the wall. It strikes me as one of the obvious and yet fully exploited advantages of video art. Video is pretty much video; it can be freed from the equipment. It should be freed from the equipment. The phone-hunched generation of YouTube watchers will take care of that for us, I suspect.

Pipilotti Rist, Be Nice to Me (Flatten 4)

Sometimes that girl's gaze is too much. My daughter made me turn Be Nice to Me  off when I had it on the projector. I don't know if it is easier to take on a small screen. I know it is wholly unsettling on a Jumbotron.

Pipilotti Rist, from the exhibition Open My Glade. 

The world of Lungenflügel (Tulip lungs, I think) is better than the world.

Pipilotti Rist, Lungenflügel (2009)

Sometimes you want to run but her gaze is a tractor beam and you wait to be let go.

Pipilotti Rist, I'm Not The Girl Who Misses Much (1986)

There is always more.

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