This summer, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, continues its ongoing series of grand-scale, immersive presentations with Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest and Worry Will Vanish. This special exhibition brings together two mesmerizing works newly acquired by the MFAH: Pixel Forest (2016), an installation of thousands of hanging LED lights, and Worry Will Vanish (2014), a two-channel video projection that takes viewers on a dream-like journey through the natural landscape, the human body, and the heavens above. Pixel Forest and Worry Will Vanish will transform the Museum’s central Cullinan Hall from June 11 to September 17, 2017.
Pipilotti Rist has been among contemporary art’s chief innovators since the mid-1980s. Over the past 30 years, she has pushed the boundaries between video and the built environment, exploiting new technologies to create installations that fuse the natural world with the electronic sublime. Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest and Worry Will Vanish also demonstrates Rist’s profound engagement in what it means to be human in the cosmic cycle of generation and regeneration.
“We are pleased to welcome these landmark works to their permanent home at the MFAH, a project made possible by the Caroline Wiess Law Accessions Endowment Fund,” said director Gary Tinterow. “Pixel Forest and Worry Will Vanish complement the Museum’s growing commitment to light-based and immersive art, joining recent examples by James Turrell, Jesús Rafael Soto, and Yayoi Kusama in our collection.”
“Pipilotti Rist’s joint presentation of these works underscores her technical mastery and conceptual rigor,” commented Alison de Lima Greene, the Isabel Brown Wilson Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the MFAH and organizing curator of the presentation. “While each was conceived independently, together they achieve a new synergy as they coalesce into a greater whole. As viewers, we are taken on a truly fantastic voyage that unites the near and far, the physical nature of our own bodies and our relation to the world around us.”
Pixel Forest (2016) has been custom fabricated by Rist and her collaborator Kaori Kuwabara to span the vast space of Cullinan Hall. The installation consists of 3,000 LED lights encased in resin spheres, suspended on cables from the ceiling. Each light is controlled by a video signal so that the “forest” is constantly changing, sometimes shifting in a staccato rhythm, and sometimes in sinuous waves of color. Visitors can stroll throughout this environment, described by Rist as “a digital image that has exploded in space.” Rist explains further: “I want to make it clear that everything we look at is also always just organized light, which helps as I dissolve architecture and forms. I am interested in the combination of nature and technology; these are not two different things.”
Worry Will Vanish (2014), a two-channel video that runs in ten-minute cycles, will be projected onto the south and west walls of Cullinan Hall, taking viewers into a fantastic dreamscape where the body and nature become one. Rist’s filmed and manipulated footage is immediately enchanting, as glistening, dew-laced leaves give way to images of the body and its interior, vast oceans, and a starry sky. The accompanying soundtrack, created in collaboration with Anders Guggisberg, offers a lyrical and resonantly textured soundscape, heightening the video’s aura of wonderstruck celebration. Visitors are invited to recline on pillows and lose themselves in Rist’s cosmos.
About the Artist
Pipilotti Rist was born in the Rhine Valley, Switzerland, in 1962, and currently lives and works in Zürich. She attended both the University of Applied Arts in Vienna (1982–86), studying graphic design, illustration, and photography, and the Basel School of Design (1986–88), studying audiovisual communications and video. In addition to her studio art practice, she was a member of the band Les Reines Prochaines (Queens of the Knives) from 1988 to 1994, and the spirit of collaboration remains central to her work. Rist first came to international acclaim through her single-channel videos, including I’m Not The Girl Who Misses Much (1986), and her two-channel projections, including Ever is Over All (1997). With Zimmer (1994/2000), Rist began to construct installations in tandem with her videos, and her more recent work increasingly blurs the lines between object, environment, image, and light. Rist has been featured in exhibitions at museums and festivals across Europe, Japan, and the Americas, including biennials in São Paulo, Venice, Istanbul, and the Caribbean. In 2009, Wishing for Synchronicity: Works by Pipilotti Rist, organized by the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, introduced her work to local audiences; in 2016, her mid-career survey Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest at the New Museum, New York, broke all attendance records.