Qatar Museums opened Electric Idyll, the first survey exhibition dedicated to renowned contemporary Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region – at the Fire Station: Artist in Residence yesterday.
Designed as a single, comprehensive installation spanning the more than 650-sq-m exhibition space of the Fire Station’s Garage Gallery, Electric Idyll presents a diverse collection of some of the artist’s most celebrated works combined with new participatory pieces created specifically for this exhibition.
Curated by Massimiliano Gioni, the exhibition opens as part of the special February gathering of Qatar Creates, the year-round national cultural movement that promotes and celebrates the diversity of cultural activities in Qatar and connects residents and global audiences with Qatar’s creative industries. The exhibition will remain on view through June 1, 2024.Emerging in the 1990s as part of a generation of artists who explore the connections between technology, nature, and the spectacle of omni-pervasive images in contemporary societies, Rist has been internationally celebrated for her video installations, which combine immersive projections and communal experiences of dreamlike contemplation. For Electric Idyll, Rist develops the exhibition as a hypnotic diorama-an all-encompassing digital landscape comprising 14 works.
HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums, said, “Pipilotti Rist’s work is a favourite among the many people who have enjoyed her lively and immersive installation at the National Museum of Qatar. We are proud and excited to deepen our ties with her by presenting this endlessly fascinating new interactive exhibition, the first of its kind in our region, which she has designed especially for our audiences. Technologically advanced in its methods but deeply human in spirit, it is sure to inspire wonder in children in this Year of the Family, while taking adult visitors on a journey to a space where we question how we view the world and each other.”
Pipilotti Rist said, “When I create a work of art, I am making an offering – a celebration of the beauty and the monstrousness of being alive. To pay tribute to all our senses and the brain, nature gave me my hands: now I give them back to her. I consider all artistic products – from ceramics and paintings to embroidery, films, and music – as offerings. Art that really reaches you and me floods us with wisdom: it trains us to accept different opinions; it instils serenity and reconciles reason and instinct; it helps us admit our biases and establish mental synchrony; it can raise utopias and help us be in awe and thankful. I cry for all the people who cannot – less for the ones that do not want to enjoy art.” The exhibition is bookended by Ever is Over All (1997) – the video installation that won Rist the prestigious award for best young artist at the 1997 Venice Biennale – and one of her recent vast digital panoramas, Worry Will Vanish (2014).
Additional exhibition highlights include Shapeshifter Window Inside Out Inside Window Fluid Portal Window a new series of video installations presented within abstract window frames, and Deine Raumkapsel Your Space Capsule (2015), a mesmerising installation that invites viewers to peek at a scene inside a glowing wooden box. Electric Idyll marks the second major presentation of Rist’s work in Doha, following the installation Your Brain to Me, My Brain to You (2022), which remains on view at the National Museum of Qatar until 30th of April 2024. The commissioned installation invites visitors to embark on a journey of self-discovery through a multisensory experience that inspires introspection and awe.
A key feature of Your Brain to Me, My Brain to You are “pixels” that comprise 12,000 LED lights strung on cables throughout the gallery for visitors to navigate. Representing neurons, constantly firing and communicating with each other, the pulsing resin-encased bulbs have been programmed in choreography with a soundscape and featuring abstract footage of Qatar’s landscapes.
Pipilotti Rist, a pioneer of spatial video art, was born in 1962 in Grabs in the Swiss Rhine Valley on the Austrian border and has been a central figure within the international art scene since the mid-1980s.
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