Pipilotti Rist was born in the Swiss Rhine Valley in 1962. She went on to study Commercial Art, Illustration, and Photography at the Institute of Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria from 1982 to 1986, as well as The School of Design in Basel, Switzerland to study Audio Visual Communications from 1986 to 1988. Pipilotti works mostly through the use of Audio/Visual Video Installations and Projections, but she also creates film and video stills that she displays in exhibits. Her work has a 60’s feel, displaying a psychedelic quality through the use of subject matter and theme, as well as bright highly saturated color. Her creations display a rather strong influence from the Beatles, which is quite interesting considering the day and age she is working in, and therefore have a nostalgic feeling. Pipilotti’s work displays a clear desire to return to the days of the 1960’s and 70’s counterculture, which is often thought of and in many ways depicted as a free and easy period, especially with all the drugs that were being used at the time. Through her use of experimentation with such themes and ideas, she accomplishes a level of artistic individuality while at the same time giving a sense of something familiar.
Strange is the first word that came to mind as I was exploring Pipilotti Rist’s artwork. Perhaps it’s intentional, but it reminds me of something you would get as the result of working while on drugs. I acknowledge the nostalgia present in her work because I also have a desire to experience periods in the past, but it almost feels like her nostalgia is not being controlled within the pieces, but rather that it’s gotten out of hand. There’s plenty of room in the art world for Pipilotti’s style, and obviously it has welcomed her, but it’s also something that seems crazed and very much in the past.
Her film “Pepperminta” reminded me at first glance of the Beatles film “Magical Mystery Tour,” and then the Beatles- influenced film “Across The Universe,” which premiered in 2007. I found a few of her pieces to be interesting, but then there were those that seemed completely bizarre and it makes me wonder how viewers react upon seeing her art in person. What I did find cool about her work were the film stills, the pieces taken from her strange films, but only showing a specific moment, eliminating the “strange” that seems to devour her films. Overall, I think there is a unique nature to Pipilotti’s work and the insanity in her artistic expression is what is eye-catching about her work. To me, though, it just comes across as deranged and in some cases a little bit frightening.