Pipilotti Rist Explores Interior and Exterior in Two Chelsea Galleries

A major multi-part exhibition, now showing in two New York City galleries, features mesmerizing videos, sculptures and textile works.

Two lawn chairs next to a barbecue grill
‘Courtyard’ in Neighbors Without Fences (2020). Tiffany Del Valle

Walking into Luhring Augustine on 24th Street, gallery visitors must pass a large red textile work quilted with multiple colorful patterns: Pipilotti Rist’s Textile Gleichzeitigkeit (Joey Foulard) (2023). More signpost than barrier, it still transports you into the world of the Swiss visual art pioneer. Rist’s “Prickling Goosebumps & a Humming Horizon” is a two-gallery show, on view now at Luhring Augustine and Hauser & Wirth’s West 22nd Street location.

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At the entrance are small-scale works including Visual Cortex Dolomites (2022), a video installation projecting an oil on hardboard landscape, Seenlandschaft mit Dolomiten by Felix Heuberger. Heuberger’s original monochrome painting is flat and muted, with forest greens and grays illustrating a body of water in the foreground, a forest in the middle ground and faded mountains in the background. Rist’s video projection of the painting gives life by adding depth to the background and white highlights to the mountains. The sky becomes a vibrant electric scene with patterns similar to the Northern Lights in bright blues and greens. Across from the painting, a rock sculpture titled Respect Scholarly Rock Hong Kong (2022) is activated with a hypnotic video projection of abstract strokes of bright teals and greens. 

These works in the dimly lit and sanctum-like entrance presage the visionary excellence of Rist, whose work is in the permanent collections of the MoMA in New York, SFMOMA and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. 

Background music—piano carefully met with sounds of wind and birdsong—increases in volume as one gets closer to what appears to be a dark room but reveals itself to be Rist’s curated backyard world, Neighbors Without Fences (2020), a version of which debuted at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. There is a full-scale façade of a clapboard house. The windows project neon abstract imagery, shown close up: colorful leaves, flowers and other foliage made for the exhibition. It flanks a courtyard outfitted with patio furniture meant to be sat upon.

Large rock sculpture
‘Die Geduld’ (2016) next to ‘Neighbors Without Fences’ (2020). Tiffany Del Valle

“Prickling Goosebumps & a Humming Horizon” is whimsical and inspires feelings of familiarity as well as the sense that the viewer is in a dream. The space is large and inviting—an aged red picnic bench sits at the heart of the installation next to Die Geduld, The Patience (2016), a uniquely-shaped human-sized limestone chunk with purple and orange video projecting onto it. 

Walking toward the back room, visitors’ footsteps match the music: rhythmic melodies that get lower in octave, revealing Big Skin (2022), one of Rist’s audio-video installations. Hanging frosted acrylic panels become a canvas for abstract videos that almost mirror deep-water marine life. The electric neon colors light the pitch-dark room.

The magic continues at Hauser & Wirth, where Rist has transformed the street-level floor of the gallery into a living room with domestic objects- and furniture-as-art, including Ich brenne für dich (I burn for you) (2018), an antique marble fireplace with curated collectibles on the mantle. 

The West 22nd Street space feels very comforting—gallery goers can sit on elements of the installation, including the bed in Welling Color Island East (2023) and the couch in Welling Color Island West (2023), which invite us to become a part of the art. They are bordered by video projections on islands of carpets, and the Rist’s colorful lights fill the space in a tranquil way.  

A sculpture of an intestine covered in intense red and purple light
‘I Love The Sound Of Your Intestine,’ 2020, Video installation, projection on upper intestine model, wood, metal, linoleum, integrated projector & player. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

I was particularly drawn to the collection of sculptures along the floor, which included smaller-scale works such as I Love The Sound Of Your Intestine (2020). The Metal Flake Milk Tooth (2023) collection of sculptures is exactly what it sounds like—metallic milk teeth—but with a twist. Each shimmering ‘tooth,’ appears to be a beanbag chair. They express some of the vibrancy found in nature, particularly in moss and algae: bright blues and greens with a hint of yellow or apricots, pinks and oranges.

Overall, the exhibition does a fine job of showcasing Pipilotti Rist’s ability to find meaning in the mundane and quotidian parts of life by lending unique perspectives to objects, locations and shapes by adding multi-sensory elements that are as “wild and friendly” as the artist herself.

Prickling Goosebumps and a Humming Horizon” is on view at Luhring Augustine Chelsea through March 30 and Hauser & Wirth through April 13.

Pipilotti Rist Explores Interior and Exterior in Two Chelsea Galleries