Pipilotti Rist’s Eyeball Massage is not just an art exhibition, it’s an experience. An enlightening, overwhelming and captivating 360° experience that puts the visitor in the centre of an unusual, mesmerising and surreal world made of super saturated colours, moving lights and relaxing music.

On display at the Hayward Gallery, Eyeball Massage gathers together over 30 artworks created by the 49 year old Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist (yes, Pipilotti, a nickname taken in honour of Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking!), from the very beginning of her career in the mid 1980s to the present day.

…tiny LCD-screens hidden inside handbags and seashells…

Rist’s installations consist mainly of videos, sculptures and recreations of environments that can be extremely immense yet extremely small; extremely beautiful yet extremely repulsive.

Suggestive moving images are projected onto the walls, floor, ceiling, screens and objects. The visitor must walk over them, sit on them, stand in them, kneel or lay down on the carpet and relax on dressed, body-shaped cushions in order to see them properly. There are huge wall-sized screens, tiny LCD-screens hidden inside handbags and seashells, videos projected onto a chair and a vase of flowers, as well as images screened on floating curtains and in miniature houses, a chandelier made of underwear and a horizontal pyramid sticking out from the wall.

All these video installations share the same motifs and usually display flowers, trees, animals, people and especially parts of the human body, both internal and external. In their simplicity, by shamelessly showing a nude and primitive universe, free of cultural and social taboos and restrictions, Rist presents the world in a new perspective and manages to convey an incredibly positive energy.

…justified by her encouragement of embracing natural bodily functions.

The images are a celebration of nature, life and the beauty of the little things in the world. Unsurprisingly, since Rist treats the body as a landscape, there is quite a bit of nudity, which may, however, be justified by her encouragement of embracing natural bodily functions.

Visually stunning, although a little bit crude and excessive at times, Pipilotti Rist’s Eyeball Massage is provocative, seductive and funny. It creates smiles and laughs, it thrills, it relaxes, and it leaves the visitor with a surprising sense of peace, serenity and vitality.

Tip: Keep your eyes well open if you go to the gallery café and shop. And ladies, drop by the toilet… Pairs of underpants and smoke-filled bubbles floating down outside the entrance of the gallery are also to be expected.

The exhibition continues until 8 January 2012

Admission: £10/£8

4½ Stars

Images courtesy of the Hayward Gallery


About The Author

Comparative literature and culture with French student, my interests are films, books, travels, music, art, photography, foreign languages and animals.

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