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  • Fiona Prior


I sipped Pipilotti Rist's ocean with great pleasure.

From the very first exhibit of this internationally renowned Swiss audio/visual artist and pioneer of multimedia art, I sensed a relationship – Rist was one of my generation who hit the world with a television in the living room. Her frame of life was therefore both her own eyes and also the square in the living room corner … a frame within a frame. An antiquated television test pattern is actually part of one video stream and I smiled as this instantly recognisable motif was fossicked from my subconscious. Possibly because I was a television baby from almost the advent of household television viewing in Australia, it was more the image streaming elements of this exhibition that hit a chord.

The words of the Chris Isaac hit 'Wicked Game' echo through the exhibition sung by Rist (maybe) and echoed by children’s voices. You listen as you watch giant, sensual lips waxing philosophical about trying to be an elegant animal in this world ... as the sun glitters through the trees on a perpendicular wall into which, you feel the owner of those philosophising lips (Rist?) is driving.

You sense this is ‘a moment’, for Rist speaks of finding a reputable man with broad shoulders (she admits this is a little old-fashioned), the economic efficiency of the nuclear couple who will eventually ‘rot together’, of 3000 years of philosophical history and 150 years of psychological history forming our life views, of the negligence of parents in not presenting their children with great sex scenes and kissing. And while you are immersed in these works ('Small Suburb Brain' 1999/2007 and 'The Innocent Collection' 1985/approx. 2032) you will note that stuck flat onto the walls beneath the projections are underpants and miscellaneous lingerie, baby’s bibs; combs, spoons, notepads, and a wide assortment of recognisable domestic flotsam, all whitewashed but subtly revealing their form beneath the saturation of video streams.

The words “What a wicked thing to do … to make me fall in love with you …” float in the air. It is dreamy, accusatory, and fits perfectly as audio with so many of the dreamy, constantly morphing works of the exhibition.

There are so many aspects to the Sip my Ocean exhibition; immersive veils of saturated imagery that you can walk through ('Administrating Eternity ' 2011), round lights of different heights suspended from the ceiling and all around you ('Pixelwald Motherboard' 2016), a world globe on the floor with countries pierced by birthday candles ('Under the Sky' 2007). Or, glance out a blood red saturated window and you will see the familiar forms and shapes of Sydney’s iconic harbour; engulfed in crimson light.

A wonderful way to while away a morning or afternoon.

Museum of Contemporary Art

Until 18 February 2018

A taste of the artist’s work here, then back to Henry.

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