Would you like a luxury spa experience without the nuisance of having to undress? Or how about going deep inside a tropical forest without the bore of flying long haul? Even better, why not alleviate the guilt of overspending at the London sales by entering a sanctuary that promises “Worry Will Vanish” without paying a psychiatrist.
Worry Will Vanish Horizon is the title of the latest immersive work by one of my favourite video artists, Pipilotti Rist. It’s the most spectacular of four video pieces in an exhibition of the same name (with the word Horizon added—indicative of its scale).
I’d had a hectic morning before I arrived at Hauser & Wirth’s Savile Row gallery but as soon as I arrived and took off my shoes I felt myself exhale. I padded through heavy curtains into a vast, dark chamber and snuggled onto one of the many duvets scattered across the floor. Then I lay back to become immersed in the scene as giant images flowed over the walls.
Scene upon scene unfolded: jungles of fleshy plants, sunsets over the sea, glistening water droplets on a forest of spiders’ webs. I roamed through mossy undergrowth, along streams, across a starry sky, among the fronds of giant ferns. I delved deep inside human bodies and explored fingers and eyes close-up. Bizarre faces and a lotus flower of flames drifted and disappeared.
All the while strange music and sounds filled the room: rippling water, sighs, plingy harmonies. By the time I’d reached the fourth loop through this exuberant celebration of life I was indeed feeling thoroughly de-stressed. But was all this joy and wonder just that bit too much? I’d had a terrific virtual massage, but would my muscles pay the price the following day?
I’ve seen many works by Rist, a Swiss artist from Grabs, over the years. I’ll never forget my first encounter at a Venice Biennale when she projected images over the ceiling of a church, while viewers lay on mattresses beneath. As with Worry Will Vanish Horizon, it included naked people gambolling through sylvan glades. The church fathers objected and it was closed down shortly after I’d been. The tailors of Savile Row have no such qualms, and you’ll be able to drop by Hauser & Wirth, free of charge (and with your Oxford Street bags of bargains) next week, until 10 January.