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multicolored light strings hanging vertically in a darkened room
multicolored light strings hanging vertically in a darkened room

View of Pipilotti Rist’s installation Pixel Forest, 2016, at Tai Kwun, Hong Kong, 2022.

IN HER FIRST YEAR of graduate school, Pipilotti Rist made an iconic and influential video that landed her a debut exhibition invitation after its first screening. In that 5-minute piece, I’m Not the Girl Who Misses Much (1986), Rist dances around in a low-cut black dress, her breasts at times flopping out of the garment, as she repeats the titular phrase in a singsongy voice that builds into a cathartic crescendo. She recorded, edited, and starred in the piece herself, and the results are rife with glitches and often awash in the pinks and purples that would soon become her signature. That early work sums up so much of Rist’s project: colorful, high femme, and self-reflexive. She knows what she’s doing. She isn’t missing much.

Her popularity has grown exponentially since. Her 2016 survey at the New Museum in New York broke institutional attendance records, and Beyoncé famously borrowed from Rist’s Ever Is Over All (1997) for the video for her 2016 song “Hold Up.” (In both, the respective artist wears a gown and a smile as she skips along the street and smashes car windows.) Rist’s breakout 2008 installation in the Museum of Modern Art’s atrium, Pour Your Body Out (7354 Cubic Meters), was dismissed by some as a work in which visitors liked to lounge, practice yoga, and host playdates. But such criticism misses Rist’s genius: Pour Your Body Out managed to draw huge crowds and make them feel at ease despite its focus on a woman who is shown collecting her menstrual blood in a silver chalice. Rist insists on the importance and the centrality of the body in her work, especially those parts considered weird, gross, or taboo. With bright colors, alluring tempos, and lulling music, she’s made popular work out of an important feminist project.

Now, for a joint show opening November 9 at Hauser & Wirth and November 18 at Luhring Augustine—both in New York—Rist is debuting new furniture-sculpture hybrids, which marks a pivot for an artist who has until now worked with electronic and time-based media. Below, Rist talks about the transition leading up to the show, titled “Prickling Goosebumps & a Humming Horizon.”

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