Last year I went to her exhibition that she had on at the Hayward Gallery ‘Eyeball Massage’. And it felt like exactly that. There was a room were the projected images were gigantic. A naked woman crawls through the grass; in extreme close up shots, her painted fingernails look like moving eyeballs. A black spotted pig careens across the country side, roots around, and edges his snout towards the camera, sniffing, slobbering, and engulfing the lens. The woman and pig gently fall back down, flower petals drift against a bright blue sky, the woman floats in a pond. A giant hand, dirtied by soil, picks up a worm. The viewer is the worm, seeing the world from a worm’s eye view. ‘This might be the dark side of Eden.’
Rist rarely presents her videos in the traditional format (i.e., viewer watching moving image in a box). Not surprisingly, a primary influence on Rist was Nam June Paik, one of the earliest practioners to explore the sculptural possibilities of video art. “We both try to draw the viewer inside it”, Rist has said. “At first you look at the box, behind the glass, within the wall. Reconquering the space inside the TV set: that’s one of my aims as well.”
‘Rist encouraged non-traditional museum behaviour in her installation design for ‘Pour Your Body Out’. The floor was covered in a plush carpet; in the middle sat an outsized round sofa, which, black in the centre and circled with white, resembled an unblinking eye staring up at the ceiling. Viewers lounged on the sofa, rolled around on the carpet, did yoga, or napped. Contrary to the casual apperance, Rist was in control of the viwers’ experience, transforming them from observer to participant through deep immersion, drawing them inside her head, inside her dream. This fusion of the projected image within an environment, the manner in which she intertwines external and internal experience, and the physical insertion of the viewer within the work is a leitmotif for Rist.
This interaction that she is able to use with the viewer in a playful manner that makes them aware of their body within the installation is something im interesting in incorporating into my own work. The art is a two way thing, and can not exist in the same way without someone to view it, and interact with it. The images are vibrant and seductive – enhancing the spirit and mood of the viewer in a positive way.