Installation at MoMA: Pipilotti Rist: Pour Your Body Out (7354 Cubic meters)
MoMA's Marron Atrium, which soars 110 feet above street level, has been designated a temporary installation space since the museum's renovations in 2004. Multimedia Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist was given the monumental task of creating an installation in this vast and multi-storied space and has succeeded in building a lovely, relaxing, and surreal environment. After spending several hours studying modern classics, it was refreshing to join a crowd of over one hundred mellowing out on and around a giant pod/couch in the middle of the room.
One enters the space on the second floor and immediately sees a 25-foot-high video projection playing on three walls. The remaining wall space is white except for purple curtains on several higher floors. Visitors may look down from these higher levels onto the space in designated areas, or catch a glimpse of the installation from uncovered windows on other floors.
The installation floor is covered with purple carpet except where a white carpet surrounds a large, donut-like seating area; one can sit on the gray "outer donut" or climb into the black "donut hole." (A statement from the artist described this couch as an eye with the center being the pupil.) Viewers are required to remove their shoes to enter the couch space. Soothing sounds (mostly sounds of a body moving and less frequent, more melodic noise) play while a large, candy-colored video projection appears on the walls. Seven projectors are used to create the video, which runs ten minutes in a continuous loop.
The video seems to be a fantastic walk that's partially filmed through water. It's a non-narrative video with flowers, fruits, vegetables, and various parts of nature playing central roles. One girl and a pig also appear. The super-sized and intense pinks and purples of the images add to the otherworldly sense of the video. Curator Klaus Bisenbach describes it as a landscape, the artist describes it as a poem; it might accurately be described as a poetic, dreamy landscape.
One needs to spend time in the space to truly experience the work. On the day I visited, people were walking about and sitting all over the floor and in the "donut." When viewers stand close to the video, their silhouettes are accented against the screen and become part of the video. If there ever were a slow day at MoMA, it would be lovely to have a solitary experience with the piece.
The video images and space are delicious and definitely not to be missed. The exhibit runs through February 2, 2009. Rist is working on a full-length narrative film that will encompass imagery from this piece. - Margaret Roleke
Ms. Roleke is an artist who's work has been exhibited throughout the New York Tri-State region; she is also an independent curator.