I can't think of a better way to start the new year than spending time with the new Pipilotti Rist piece in the 2nd floor atrium at MoMA. For my money, Rist is one of the most compelling artists out there, and with this work she really outdoes herself. The installation, titled Pour Your Body Out (7354 Cubic Meters), is a complex and layered multi-media environment that transforms the great expanse of MoMA's atrium into a sense-around lounge of the highest order. Combining huge vacillating video projections on the three walls with a softly throbbing soundtrack emanating from a womb-like seating/reclining area in the center of the room, Rist offers a trippy collective excursion into pure sense-ation.
The central metaphor of the piece is water -- as vehicle or essence of life in all its richness, and fluidity -- as an integrated state of being. The visually stunning and utterly engrossing images modulate constantly in a kaleidoscopic flow of high-key color, organic forms and movement, perpetually morphing and shifting. The soundtrack is a combination of vocal and electronic drones and melodic wisps that form a soft blanket of ambient sound, inviting us to stop, take a deep breath, and just be there for a while. To reinforce this invitation, Rist has installed a large doughnut shaped sofa in the center, and asked viewers to remove their shoes and settle in.
If this sounds all too ... new age -- well, let me say that verbal description simply cannot convey the totality of the experience of this piece. The teeming throngs of people lounging, strolling, just hanging out below the giant undulating saturated color images create a free-flowing, breathing fusion of humanity and sensuousness that is distinctly separate from the institutional starkness of the rest of the museum. This is a knockout piece of monumental poetry -- an exquisite incantation that reinforces in our bodies and minds the experience and awareness of a pervasive interconnected sensuality.