Currently outside the Southbank’s Hayward Gallery are dozens of pairs of white underpants hanging on multiple washing lines, lighting up at night like fairy lights. These undergarments are the work of Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist whose video art is currently on display inside the gallery.
I became acquainted with the artists work on a visit to George Condo’s Mental States, which involved passing through Rist’s exhibition in order to view it. While I must admit I had never heard of the Swiss artist previously, her work is definitely not something you could walk past without stopping to take a look. Film exploring the body, nature and human life is broadcast across a large room inside various objects such as seashells on miniature screens while spectators can lounge on cushions with music which sounds as though it could be the sea or the wind plays in the background.
While this retrospective of Rist’s work is entitled ‘Eyeball Massage’, I found it all to be a little strange. For me it did not make sense and it was somewhat distressing. Despite the plentiful amounts of positive reviews elsewhere, unfortunately I did not particularly enjoy the videos and installations on display. It can certainly be said that Rist’s portrayal of the natural world compared to the city in lights and film is original, if not a little dizzying. It is different and honestly for someone unaccustomed to it, unexpected. I do not recommend this exhibition for the unprepared. Rist will show you life through the different senses, through feeling and music, yet at times it can be uneasy, bewildering and confusing. Don’t expect the answers to be given to you, yet for those wanting an alternative visual narrative of our lives, this is certainly for you.
Pipilotti Rist: Eyeball Massage continues at the Hayward Gallery until 8 January 2012