There's No Place Like Home
If the title Åbn min lysning (Open My Glade) doesn’t immediately make sense to you, then it’s working. It’s the title of the first major presentation of Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist in Scandinavia. The word ‘glade’ is an archaic form of a ‘clearing’, like in a forest. “The title is borrowed from one of Rist’s works and the idea was to have a title that would point to various openings simultaneously,” explains Tine Colstrup, who is the curator of Open My Glade and one of six curators at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk. “Pipilotti Rist’s work is very layered, and a recurring theme in her work is opening spaces within spaces. Oftentimes they feel like secret spaces in the body or in nature, which is why using the term ‘glade’ felt ideal.”
The idea of the home is a fundamental theme of the show. Rist’s practice is very focused on intimacy, and spaces. Intimacy at home, in public, the intimacy of the body, or even the body or the mind as a home. Colstrup and Rist, working in close collaboration throughout the year-long process of creating the exhibition, asked themselves how they could make the space in the museum more like a home. “What happens when you make public-space less clean, pure, professional? How do you create spaces in which you move, think, exist at a different pace and on a different level than you’re accustomed to in public space?” The South Wing of the Louisiana has turned into an extension of Pipilotti Rist’s mind and body. Guests (Louisiana doesn’t call them visitors) are encouraged to experience the space by meandering around, sitting down, lying down, all in an attempt to open their minds, allowing for the fusion of instinct, sensation and reason. Interestingly, the main building of Louisiana was initially a private home. Knud W Jensen, the founder of the museum, wanted to create an art institution that was more home-like than the big, impressive power structures that we are used to seeing in museum architecture today. “He wanted it to feel like you went to visit and eccentric family in the countryside.” says Colstrup. In that way, the Louisiana and Rist find another kind of ideological symbiosis, aiming to blur the line between public and private, museum and home.
Since the mid 1980s Pipilotti Rist has continued exploring, challenging the potential of video technology as an art medium. Within the work of younger generations of video and multimedia artists, you can feel Rist as an inspiration, both in her use of colour, subject matter and the camera angles. The relationship between Louisiana and Rist goes back to 1996 when it became the first museum to acquire one of her video installations. It came as quite a shock to Rist at the time, when it wasn’t conventional to collect video art. Each of the pieces draws you into its own world and explores a different narrative. You can find yourself looking from the point of view of an insect crawling up the stem of a tulip (Mercy Garden Retour Retour, 2014) or looking at the inside of someone’s eye-lid (Reversed Eyelid, 2019). The latter piece covers the wall as a soft, brilliantly coloured membrane in the gallery installed as an ‘apartment’. It is composed of Kvadrat Soft Cells panels, creating a 54-metre-long panel featuring the spectacular print designed by Rist. Kvadrat has a tradition of collaborating with designers, architects and artists, and they have worked together with both Louisiana and Rist before closely collaborating on Reversed Eyelid. The motif looks like an almost ‘solarized’ afterimage of a view, which could also look like a microscopic view into the body.
I wanted to know how Tine Colstrup managed to give each of these immersive pieces enough room to breathe. My thinking was flawed. “It wasn’t about showing the artist’s work piece by piece. It was about showing a total installation that embodies her spirit. You’re in her head, her body, her home, her forest. The attempt was to maintain this intimate universe where things overlap; this is also in accordance with how I think Rist sees the world.” Explains Colstrup. That is to say that Rist doesn’t really believe in the strong, linear narrative. Things happen simultaneously, chaotically at once. “When we tell our life story, it’s only one version of that story. In fact, we are having simultaneous experiences of many perspectives of many worlds simultaneously.” The resulting exhibition is really like being in a dream-like state—part your own mind, part Pipilotti Rist’s, between her body and yours.
Åbn min lysning (Open My Glade) has been extended until the 22nd of September 2019. The exhibition is supported by C.L Davids Fond og Samling as well as Kvadrat and Pro Helvetia.