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7th. november 2005
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Interview: Pipilotti Rist, part 1 - Home as a theme
While Pipolotti Rist was in Århus to launch her new installation at ARoS Aarhus art museum she gave an interview to aarhus.nu. The interview expanded to cover several subjects and will be published on aarhus.nu in 4 parts. In this first part Pipilotti Rist and Pia Strandbygaard Frandsen talks about Pipilotti's focus on the home as a theme and how she would like people to use the museum as a widening of their own private space.

Text: Pia Strandbygaard Frandsen
Photo: Courtesy of Pipilotti Rist


Pia: You have worked with the home as a motif in other works. Why is it interesting for you to work with this theme?

Pipilotti: For different reasons. One is that the public space of the museum is like a prolonging of everybody’s living room. I like to underline that and to repeat it in a way that people use the museum as a widening of their own private space. How people behave in private rooms and how they take in space is a research field of mine. A part from this was it always an old dream to do - this time lapse thing - that you have 24 hours in eight minutes. When I was asked to do a permanent piece for ARoS I thought for the first time, that it was technically possible to do.

Pia:You say that the museum is sort of a prolonging of people’s own home, but the museum is also a space, where you have to behave in a certain ‘public’ way, whereas at home you can relax and do whatever you want?

Pipilotti: Yes, of course the museum is a public space, but for me it is more than a public space. You come to the museum, you take your time, and you give a certain concentration to the place. That’s why I never do video and sound in public space, the art works get annoying and authoritarian but in the museum people choose to come and see the work and you can ask more of them. The other direction of the museum is more the fetish, the altar, where you as an audience are feeling tiny when you are presented with the master genius piece. I want to direct the experience away from that, in order to make you behave as if it was your space. People should relax and behave as if it was a private space. Often the museum today takes over the earlier position of the church, where you get together and take your time off from your daily duties.

Installation view from "Himalaya Goldstein’s Living Room", 1999, Kunsthalle Zürich. Photo: Alexander Tröhler   Installation view from "Himalaya's Sister's Living Room", 2000, Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York. Photo: Larry Lamay

Pia: So you want to make a closer connection to people’s everyday life in the museum by making a more intimate space, where they can concentrate on the experience?

Pipilotti: Exactly!

Pia:The installation for ARoS is very intimate and homelike. However you have also build in a distance because in the title you call it the neighbour’s house?

Pipilotti: In contradiction to my other answers that’s true. Even if it is intimate it is not your home. But your neighbour is somebody you know or you visit, and it plays also with the fact that we tend to clot together in big cities. We live very close, but the closer we are the more distant we are. It is a very new idea to live in small family units. They let us think it has been like this for thousands of years but it has only existed since the industrialization. I am sure that will change in the next generation and that we again will live in bigger groups. I think that my generation, when we are old. So the installation speaks about that isolation, but on another level it expresses the wish we have to become invisible and be able to fly around and peek into the neighbours’ houses.

Pia: We are often very curious, we would like to see how the neighbour lives and we have very strong ideas about how they live?

Pipilotti: Exactly. So it deals with this contradiction between keeping our private spheres and the interest we take in our neighbour. We would never look too long into the neighbour’s eyes if we meet. There are very strict rules about how long we watch each other - we are very curious but at the same time like shy animals. Why do we like to live so close and at the same time behave like this? This is a question I always ask.

Installation view from "Dawn Hours in the Neighbour’s House", 2005, ARoS. Photo: ARoS   Installation view with Pipilotti Rist at ARoS. Photo: Jan Falk Borup

Pia: You have made this work particularly for this room at ARoS. Are there specific Danish connotations to the work - are you inspired by something you have seen in Denmark or is this theme universal?

Pipilotti: We [in Switzerland] have a lot of prejudices about Denmark. One is of course, that we think Danish people are much more aware about design. We would think that even proletarian people in Denmark have a better sense of good and bad. I was always aware that the installation was made for Denmark. The house is on the border of good taste, but there is nothing cynical in it. There is nothing in the room, which I would not have in my own house. But of course it is bad taste linked with the question of colour. In our Western society strong colours are linked with the proletariat, with gypsies, with superficiality. The more educated we are, we try to create a distinct interior design. Simple colours always play with that.

Pia: IKEA?

Pipilotti: Yes, IKEA took over that bourgeois idea. There are of course also things I like about it – the emptiness, a meditative dimension, but to make things black, beige, and white always gives the signal that our values are inside and that we don’t have to show it on the outside. That is always the message – “I don’t need to attract attention, because my values are inside”. Life is - nature is, extremely colourful, and when people say that my work have so strong colours, I would rather say that I do not exaggerate. Depending on the daylight, things in nature, our eyes, skin, not to mention our blood are extremely colourful.