Pour Your Body Out at the MoMA

photo by Richard Drew

photo by Richard Drew

This past weekend I visited the Museum of Modern Art to see Pipilotti Rist’s site-specific multimedia installation, “Pour Your Body Out (7354 Cubic Meters)”.  The museum’s second-floor Marron Atrium has been transformed into a lush, sensual playground with 25-foot-high moving images on three walls and soothing, trance-like sound.  The space is carpeted and visitors are encouraged to remove their shoes and walk around, sit on the floor, or stretch out on the iris-shaped seating area in the center of the room.  For a museum, it’s an unusually comfortable, inviting space that seems to be enjoyable for both adults and young children.

In the introduction to the exhibit, Ms. Rist, who is from Switzerland, writes that she hopes visitors will absorb “spiritual vitamins” while experiencing the installation.  Rather than standing still and moving quickly from one image to the next – a frequent occurrence in museums – the artist invites viewers to “pour your body out from your hips”, meditate, dance, sing, and move around.

The images themselves are ordinary: a field of tulips; a person walking through puddles of water strewn with trash; and hands digging up clumps of moist soil and a wriggly earth worm, among several others.  But the use of extreme slow-motion and different camera angles transforms the viewing experience into a sensual one.  I could feel the waxiness of the flowers against my skin, and the earth worm sliding between my fingers.  Vibrant colors enrich the images, and with three walls to watch, viewers can take in the 10-minute loop several times in order to experience the entire project.

“Pour Your Body Out” engages the viewer in a holistic way.  It is immersive visual art that activates all of the senses through light, sound, images, color, and texture.  Although it would be wonderful to see this project in a setting that is free and open to the public, it is still worth experiencing at the MoMA.

“Pour Your Body Out” is on display through February 2, 2009.

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