Worry Will Vanish and Stay Stamina Stay, parallel exhibitions by Pipilotti Rist at Hauser & Wirth in London and Somerset, respectively, feature footage generated during Rist’s recent residency at the gallery’s newest location in Somerset between summer 2012 and summer 2013. For material, Rist milks images from the plant life surrounding Durslade Farm, the historic Somerset compound that Hauser & Wirth has converted into gallery spaces, garden, farm, and café. Rist’s videos suggest the confluence of the micro- upon the macroscopic, like overlaid sheets of tracing paper revealing the similarities of the body, the natural world of plants, and the cosmos.
Both the works Worry Will Vanish Horizon (in London) and Mercy Garden (in Somerset) transform adjacent gallery walls into massive video theaters. In London, visitors remove their shoes before entering and are invited to lie down on soft, white floor pillows while they take in the projections. In Somerset, the invitation for a seated vista is presented in the form of locally produced sheepskin rugs.
In London, Worry Will Vanish Horizon is focused on the somatic experience. The video traces a path through what appears to be the interior of a human body lined with blood veins that morph into the veins on the backs of leaves and mapped constellations in a black sky. The vantage point of lying down lulls the viewer into a hypnotic relationship with the body in the work. Rist is informed here by autogenic training, a psychiatric technique developed by Johannes Heinrich Schultz in 1932 in which the participant views a series of images from a particular physical position in order to induce relaxation. Though this manipulation of the viewer’s body in order to produce emotional response to video is novel, the orchestration of viewing a video about the body’s arrangement in space (referencing both outer space and one’s surroundings) results in an intersection of body, flora, and nebula that comes across as didactic as it is psychedelic. It feels like a throwback to a kind of New Age awareness of one’s place in the universe: an aesthetic that is beautiful but overused, enough to seem devoid—and, indeed, it is not of the void of which it hopes to speak. The work, in its seeming eagerness to relax the viewer, oversimplifies its own ideas.