The Hauser and Wirth Gallery seems like an ideal choice for Pipilotti Rist’s Worry Will Vanish: small, with blackened out windows and an entrance that is not the easiest to find (it took us two attempts to find the right door), but thus making the experience all the more gratifying, as if finding a hidden, bejeweled, secret cave amongst the hustle and bustle of Savile Row. With its dimmed lighting, the exhibition hall immediately reduces its visitors to a whisper so that the numerous video installations that spurt out onto objects from hidden locations (like the shoe rack opposite the entrance) are duly noted.
Yes, the shoe rack. Worry Will Vanish also invites you to take off your shoes, so that you can fully absorb the sensory experience that you are about to be subjected to, for its only after you’ve taken off your shoes that you notice the squidgy, grass coloured carpet under foot. As you cross the black curtained boundary that separates the exhibition into two parts, you begin to realise why the de-shoeing was important. The large cloud like duvets on the floor spell it out a little more clearly: Rist wants us to completely immerse ourselves in her work, not only through sight, but also through sound and touch.
This makes the spectator experience unlike any other. Once comfortably positioned on a duvet, the only thing left to do is stare up to the screens of the video installation Worry Will Vanish (2014) and watch Rist’s images unfold. Some might describe these intertwining images of the human body, space and nature as mesmerising, others may see them as slightly distressing, but its clear that this swirling psychedelic experience allows the viewer to take the time to delve into their own thoughts, unlocked by the images projected on the screens. Rist allows us to travel through space, earth, the ocean and even the human body, accompanied by the soothing sounds of crickets in a field or bubbles rushing up to the surface.
But are her works successful in diminishing our worry? Yes, the pillows, the spongy floor and the stunning visuals seen throughout the exhibition are an outstanding effort in trying to relax the spectator in such a usually uptight environment like the gallery, some may say even the privileged area of Savile Row, or to offer a ten minute interlude from the stresses of everyday life. Some people had even fallen asleep to the work (it is believed that Rist based her video on a number of relaxation techniques). However, in some cases (rather ironically) worry did not vanish, as was the experience of a friend, who found the images and bright lights had brought on a sort of motion sickness and a headache, so maybe not the best idea to go with a hangover.
Still, through her ingenious installation work, Rist successfully emphasises the power that sight, sound and touch can have on our state of mind as well as our physical condition, be it positive or negative. This absorbing exhibition offers us a chance to leave our busy, city lives at the door and enter into a delicious array of sights and sounds on a large scale which tap into the self through her clever manipulation of the senses. Rist’s exhibition is perhaps not the most ambitious of recent years (in regards to her Eyeball Massage exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in 2011), but her kaleidoscope images do not cease to entice and literally attack the senses.
Maddy Martin: BogeArt