Worry Will Vanish, Sometimes

MADDY MARTIN reviews Worry Will Vanish at the Hauser & Wirth Gallery

The Hauser & Wirth Gallery seems like an ideal choice for Pipilotti Rist’s ‘Worry Will Vanish’: small, with blacked out windows and an entrance that is not the easiest to find (it took me two attempts to locate the right door), but this makes the experience all the more gratifying. With its dimmed lighting, the exhibition hall immediately reduces its visitors to a whisper so that the numerous video installations that spurt out onto objects from hidden locations (like the shoe rack opposite the entrance) are duly noted.

Yes, the shoe rack. ‘Worry Will Vanish’ invites you to take off your shoes so that you can fully absorb the sensory experience that you are about to be subjected to; it’s only afterwards that you notice the squidgy, grass coloured carpet under foot. As you cross the black curtained boundary that separates the exhibition into two halves, you begin to realise why the de-shoeing was important. The large cloud like duvets on the floor spells it out a little more clearly: Rist wants us to completely immerse ourselves in her work, not merely through sight, but also through sound and touch.

This makes the spectator experience unlike any other. Once comfortably positioned on a duvet, the only thing left to do is stare up to the screens of the video installation ‘Worry Will Vanish’ (2014) and watch Rist’s images unfold. Some might describe these intertwining images of the human body, space and nature as mesmerising, others may see them as slightly distressing. But its clear that this swirling psychedelic experience allows the viewer to take the time to delve into their own thoughts, unlocked by the images projected on the screens.

Are her works successful in diminishing our worry? Yes, the pillows, the spongy floor and the stunning visuals throughout the exhibition are an impressive effort to try and relax the spectator in the often uptight gallery environment; they offer a ten minute interlude from the stresses of the everyday. Some viewers have even fallen asleep to the work (it is believed that Rist based her video on a number of relaxation techniques). However, in other cases (rather ironically), worry did not vanish, as was the experience of a friend, who found that the images and bright lights brought on a motion sickness and a painful headache…

Still, through her ingenious installation work, Rist successfully emphasises the power that sight, sound and touch can have on our state of mind as well as our physical condition, be it positive or negative. This absorbing exhibition offers the chance to leave our busy city lives at the door, and enter into a delicious array of sights and sounds. Rist’s exhibition is perhaps not her most ambitious of recent years (her ‘Eyeball Massage’ exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in 2011 trumps that), but her kaleidoscope images do much to entice the senses.

Images attributed to ‘Time Out’ online.