Right at the turn of the millennium, amidst Y2K fever, pioneering video artist Pipilotti Rist’s face, smushed against a glass screen, appeared on a single electronic billboard in Times Square. Titled Open my Glade (Flatten), the work found Rist with makeup smeared and face mutating in various distortions. The artist was having a go at media representations of women as well as the boundaries placed on women throughout history.
For the latest Times Square Arts’ Midnight Moment, Rist revisits and updates the work as Open my Glade (Flatten), 2000-2017. This time it will run on 62 electronic screens from 11:57pm to midnight every day of January 2017.
"In my work Open my Glade (Flatten), the human being wants to transgress any screen and jump out onto the square,” Rist says. “She wants to jump out of her skin and melt with you.”
Though Rist known primarily as a video artist, over the last several decades she has created works that mark her out as a pioneer with new media and technology. This diversity is on full display at New Museum’s retrospective Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest, which features video, multimedia, smartphone and immersive works that explore the female body and notions of gender and sexuality. And, in a way, the original Open my Glade (Flatten) hints at the selfie fixation that would arrive just under a decade later.
“Throughout her career, Rist has reinvented the ways in which technology and media frame and represent bodies—particularly those of women,” says Massimiliano Gioni, the Edlis Neeson artistic director at the New Museum in New York City. “So, I can’t imagine a better context than Times Square to literally multiply her powers.”
“Rist is a master of immersive video that challenges the normally passive audience position," Times Square Arts director Sherry Dobbin adds. “She disrupts the containment of a frame and creates a sense of force that draws the viewer inside the work.”
It is Rist’s power of subverting society’s sexualized gaze and gender expectations of women that seems perfect for the new year, what with President Elect Donald Trump assuming office later in the month. There might be no better artist than Rist to satirize the country’s very public turn to male chauvinism and political paternalism.
Click here to see more of Pipilotti Rist’s work.