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Pipilotti Rist burst onto the international art scene with visually lush video works and multimedia installations that explore female sexuality and media culture through playful and provocative remixes of fantasy and the everyday.
After working as a graphic designer in her native Switzerland, Rist gained a following in the mid-1980s as a member of the experimental post-punk pop group Les Reines Prochaines, for which she made some of her earliest video works. Rist created a series of music-based single-channel tapes that subvert the form of the music video to explore the female voice and body in pop cultural representations, merging rock music and performance with electronic manipulation.
Rist's burgeoning interests in all forms of electronic media production made her well suited for the wave of video installation that emerged in the art world of the early 1990s. Over the next ten years, she developed a video aesthetic that takes its cues from television and advertising, as well as from a rich history of feminist video work. Rist's achievement has been to join themes from this tradition with the influence of Nam June Paik and the hyper-kinetic aesthetic that he pioneered. The results have been successful and influential; Rist has become one of the most recognizable names in contemporary video art.
Rist's critical engagement is marked by a pointed exploitation of pop culture's investment in desire. Fantasy is at the heart of her work: her dream-like scenes often seem so loaded with suggestive images and scenarios that they threaten to collapse under their own meaning, saved, in the end, by her light touch and ironic humor. The willful performance of femininity — perhaps one of mass culture's foundational fantasies — functions, within the context of the pop video, as a tool or weapon. Rist gives the audience what it wants, and it is the resulting oscillation between voyeuristic pleasure and discomfited alarm that gives her work its ambiguity and impact.
"I have the greatest respect for some MTV clips," she has said, "since they have a power of innovation and a spirit of discovery that really surpasses video art." From her earliest tapes through her recent multi-media installations, Rist has crafted a body of work in which she appropriates this spirit for her own ends, exploring the intersection of sexuality, technology, and pop culture.
Pipilotti Rist was born in 1962 in Grabs, Switzerland. She studied graphic design, illustration and photography at the Institute of Applied Arts in Vienna, as well as audiovisual communications and video at the School of Design in Basel. She has had solo exhibitions at the Fundació Juan Miró, Barcelona, Spain; Museum of Modern Art, New York; AROS - Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus, Denmark; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Kiasma Museum for Contemporary Art, Helsinki; Museo Nacinal de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Musee des Beaux Arts, Montreal; Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany; Centre d'Art Contemporain, Geneva, Switzerland, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, among many others. She has been in numerous international group exhibitions, at venues including the Serpentine Gallery, London; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; New Museum, New York, Centre Pompidou, Paris; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Guggenheim Museum SoHo, New York; P.S.1 Center for Contemporary Art, New York; Kunsthaus Zurich, Switzerland; Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain; among many others. She teaches at the University of California/Los Angeles (UCLA).
In 2008-2009 Rist's immersive, multimedia installation Pour Your Body Out, which was commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, filled the museum's atrium with twenty-five-foot-high moving images and sculptural seating.
She has received several awards and grants, including: Art grant by Swiss Art council (1991/1993), Premio 2000 Biennale di Venezia (1997), Wolfgang Hahn Award Museum Ludwig Cologne (1999), Art Award of City of Zurich (2001), Honour professor title by The Berlin University of the Arts (2003), Joan Mirò Prize, Fundació Joan Mirò & Fundació Caixa Girona (2009), Miami International Film Festival, Cutting the Edge Award, Miami FL (for ‘Pepperminta’) (2010), Swiss Grand Award for Art / Prix Meret Oppenheim, Switzerland (2014).
Rist lives in Los Angeles, CA, and Zurich, Switzerland. She is represented by the galleries Hauser & Wirth and Luhring Augustine.
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