The Imaginative World of Pipilotti Rist

Two years ago, in the exhibition catalogue for Walking in My Mind (2009), I discovered the artist Pipilotti Rist. I was intrigued at that time by her work Extremities; about the processes she references in the formation of the work: “The work is influenced by autogenic training, a form of self-hypnosis consisting of a series of visualisation exercises in which one focuses on some part of the body while repeating simple statements. A primary purposes of such training is to induce a balance between the two hemispheres of the brain and bring the mind into an optimum mental state, described as ‘passive concentration’” (2009, p120)

Since, I have discovered other works by Rist and continue to be struck by the immersive nature of the installations she creates.  Boldly expressive, she fills galleries with image, movement, sound, light and colour, positioning visitors as participants. Often using women in her works, she does not address specifically feminist themes but instead takes a broader perspective:  “For me, the image of a woman in my art does not stand just for women: she stands for all humans.” (  She began her career not intending to become involved in fine art, but rather as an experimenter, playing with moving image and sound.  The response she received to her first screened piece, ‘I’m Not The Girl Who Misses Much’ (1986), led her to continue her film making journey.

Through Color is Dangerous, Rist was responding to a moment when she felt destructive and angry about a comment she had received from someone.  She turned her emotion around from a negative situation to make something creative and thoroughly engaging.  In the following video she explains her development of ideas that formed this work and how use of ideas gathered at different times connected together leading to the making of this film.

Rist invites her audience to view her works in various ways, for example lying down on their backs, looking at the floor, or putting their head into individualised viewing spaces, steering the experience further.  I find her approach to art liberating and her openness about process an inspiration.


Pipilotti Rist, “Pixel Forest” available at:



Walking in My Mind (2009) [Exhibition catalogue]
London: Hayward Publishing

Featured image from Extremities by Pipilotti Rist- available at:

All web links last accessed 15 November 2018