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Pipilotti Rist in her studio
Pipilotti Rist in her studio

The artist in her studio with some of her video installations and illuminated sculptures made with hangers, lamp shades and swimsuits. Photograph by Stefanie Moshammer

A bodiless voice with a singsong Swiss lilt rings forth. After a few seconds of staring into the Zoom void, a wonderful burst of colour explodes onto the screen as Pipilotti Rist materialises in virtual form from her studio in Zurich. Much like her immersive video installations, the Swiss artist seems incapable of being confined to pixels: her ebullient character is magnified by the polka dot apron she is wearing. A colourful crochet blanket draped over the orange chair next to her completes the richly polychromatic picture. 

When we speak in late August 2022, Rist has just returned from a six-week sojourn in Hong Kong installing her major solo show, ‘Behind Your Eyelid’, at Tai Kwun, a former police station-turned-cultural destination in the city’s Central district. Her heady installations sprawl beyond the confines of the Herzog & de Meuron-designed galleries, blanketing the complex’s courtyards and appearing on unlikely surfaces, such as a barred window. ‘My work is about freeing the electronic image from its square and bringing it into the physical realm,’ says Rist. Curated by Tobias Berger, head of arts at Tai Kwun, the survey spans Rist’s three-decade-long practice, from earlier mono-channel videos such as Sip My Ocean (1996) and Ever Is Over All (1997) to site-specific installations. There’s an iteration of Pixel Forest: a hypnotic tangle of LED lights, each distinct like crystals (or ‘frozen labias’, as the artist cheekily notes in the catalogue). Elsewhere, Omvendt øjenlåg (Reverse Eyelid) (2022), originally created in collaboration with Danish textile brand Kvadrat, has been reimagined, while Big Skin is a sensorial environment combining real footage with 3D animation.

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