Psychedelic Dreamscapes At The New Museum

Psychedelic Dreamscapes At The New Museum
January 15, 2017
Installation view, looking through pixelwald (pixel forest)


For more than thirty years, swiss artist pipilotti rist has been a pioneer of video art and multimedia installation. Her immersive, psychedelic dreamscapes and prismatic projections surround viewers in sensual landscapes that blend the natural and technological worlds.


From now through january 22 — extended due to overwhelmingly popular demand — the new museum presents the first new york survey of rist’s kaleidoscopic work. Hosted across the three main floors of the SANAA-designed institution, ‘pixel forest’ forms a comprehensive presentation of the artist’s work to date, featuring pieces that span her entire career. 

Installation view of ‘mercy garden’, 2014. Two-channel video and sound installation, color, with carpet; 10:30 min | dimensions variable | sound by heinz rohrer. Courtesy the artist, hauser & wirth, and luhring augustine. All photos by maris hutchinson / EPW studio, courtesy new museum


Before even entering the new museum, visitors encounter rist’s ‘open my glade (flatten)’ projected across the institution’s façade. The video installation depicts a humorously distorted, makeup-smeared rist flattening her face against a glass screen, seemingly trying to break through the barrier between the digital and physical spaces. ‘The human being wants to transgress any screen and jump out onto the square,’ rist says. ‘She wants to jump out of her skin and melt with you.’


Coinciding with the survey, ‘open my glade (flatten)’ is screened on sixty synchronized electronic billboards in New York’s Times Aquare from 11:57 p.m. to midnight every night throughout january 2017. the project forms part of midnight moment — a monthly presentation by the times square advertising coalition and times square arts . 

Pixelwald (pixel forest), 2016. Hanging LED light installation and media player; 20:55 min | dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist, hauser & wirth, and luhring augustine



Overall, the exhibition embodies the curiosity that drives rist’s ongoing exploration of physical and psychological experiences. inside the new museum, visitors encounter a range of textures and forms sourced from the living universe, surrounding them within an immersive dimension of virtual projections and kaleidoscopic landscapes. With curation overseen by new museum artistic director Massimiliano Gioni, the exhibition spans videos from the 1980s, to more recent film environments — chronologically tracing the artist’s expressive and expansive career. 

On the museum’s second floor, triangular viewing chambers play early single-channel movies to an audience of one, or two visitors that can peek inside. These elevated mini-theaters show work that exemplifies rist’s early investigation of the female body in popular culture. 

Installation view, looking through pixelwald (pixel forest)



On the third floor, architectural spaces are transformed into hypnagogic landscapes through works like the luminous new ‘pixelwald (pixel forest)’  — an immersive, LED installation that hangs from the museum’s ceiling. Here, visitors meander through an all-encompassing grove of suspended lights that flutter through a spectrum of saturated hues. after passing through the vibrant abyss, visitors encounter a massive two-channel video and sound installation — ‘mercy garden’ and ‘worry will vanish horizon’ — placed across the museum’s back walls. Plush cushions laid out across the floor invite viewers to lie down and experience the hypnotizing effect of the immersive film sequences and soundscapes.

4th floor to mildness, 2016. Video and sound installation with two projections onto two amorphous screens hanging horizontally from the ceiling, single and double beds with pillows and covers, four projectors, two moving mirrors, four media players, audio system, black sprinkler net, curtain, carpet, wall paint, neon, 8:11 min / 8:11 min / 7:03 min / 6:19 min.  © pipilotti rist, courtesy the artist, hauser & wirth, and luhring augustine | music and text by soap&skin/anja plasch | courtesy flora musikverlag and [PIAS] recordings


An installation created specifically for this presentation awaits viewers on the museum’s fourth floor. Two large amorphous screens hang horizontally from the ceiling, with a spread of single and double beds placed beneath. Visitors lie amongst the cushions and comforters, while dreamy video sequences and a resounding soundscape surrounds them.

4th floor to mildness, 2016


‘In my work I imagine a lot of new possible ways of being,’ rist tells gioni in an interview. ‘I imagine that life would be better if we didn’t have only two genders, but perhaps twenty different ones, so that they wouldn’t be so important or the source of so much pain. I imagine that women could have the same space and authority as men. I imagine women as vitruvian men: I imagine that they can be themselves and also represent humanity. and I think my work is an attempt at making visible the way we feel and exist within ourselves.’

Administrating eternity, 2011. Four-channel video installation, silent, color, with two moving mirrors and curtains; 9:29 min / 12:27 min / 5:35 min / 5:47 min. | dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist, collection kunstmuseum st. gallen
Installation view, includes single-channel video installations
Massachusetts chandelier, 2010. Two-channel video installation, silent, color, with chandelier made of used and washed underpants with one centrally placed lightbulb; 5:32 minutes | height: 98 3/8 in (250 cm); diameter: 66 1/8 in (168 cm). Collection marguerite steed hoffman and deedie rose
Vorstadthirn (suburb brain), 1999. Thee-channel video and sound installation, color, with miniature model of a suburban residential area containing various objects; 8:52 min / 6:53 min / 12:44 min | dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist, friedrich christian flick collection in hamburger bahnhof, Berlin
Vorstadthirn (suburb brain), 1999
Nichts (nothing), 1999. Metal housing containing two twenty-five-liter holding tanks, soap fluid, fog fluid, motor, bubble ring, front tank, pump, fog machine, ventilator, electronic timing elements, and fan | 57 7/8 x 55 1/8 x 37 3/8 in (147 x 140 x 95 cm). Courtesy the artist, private collection, switzerland
Open my glade (flatten), 2000 © pipilotti rist. Single-channel video installation, silent, color; 9:07 min. Courtesy the artist, hauser & wirth, and luhring augustine
Open my glade (flatten), 2000

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