Pipilotti Rist’s Parasimpatico

Pipilotti Rist’s Parasimpatico

Pipilotti Rist is one of my favorite artists. The second post I ever wrote for Wet Paint was about her mesmerizingly huge installation pieces. Pipilotti has been very busy since I wrote that though. In fact, she has recently shaped what is probably her most impressive multi-media installation to date.

The piece is titled Parasimpatico, and it is her first solo show in Italy. It was produced by the Fondazion Nicola Trussardi and curated by Massimiliano Gioni. The piece itself transforms one of the most historic movie theaters in the world into a massive seemingly living and breathing multi-media technicolor being.

To understand exactly what Parasimpatico is, you need first understand the space in which it was created. Parasimpatico takes place in the Cinema Manzoni in Milan. It was the third movie theater in the world. It has been around for more than 50 years and is absolutely beautiful.

The theater has long been known for its intricate fresco work and classic Italian architecture. At the time of its creation, the theater was state of the art. It was especially ground-breaking for its multiple projectors which could be played simultaneously. It was the first ever multi-screened theater. Almost all cinema theaters since have followed the basic architecture plans that the Manzoni put forward. Sadly, the theater has been closed due to a lack of funding since 2006. That is, until Pipilotti Rist was allowed to transform it into Parasimpatico (which is open to the public and completely free.)

As a full-circle nod to the ground breaking qualities the Manzoni once held, Rist has transformed the interior of the theater with some of the most advanced audio-visual installations ever created. Parasimpatico picks and pulls from almost a decade of her work and sort of acts as a retrospective as to what she is capable of.

She’s also created many new works as a part of Parasimpatico. She was given full reign of the theater and definitely used it. Every single aspect of the 5,000-square-foot theater has been used as a part of the installation. From the second you walk into the front door until you leave, her visuals are searing into your brain. She even converted the bathrooms into their own audio-video installations.

The many themes Pipilotti Rist explores in Parasimpatico vary greatly. The common thread she touches upon is the involuntary functions of the human nervous system. Sleep, digestion, sexual desires and breathing are constantly explored in her projections. She wanted to breathe life back into this theater and did so by giving it a nervous system made up of psychedelically colored hallucinations.

Rist’s latest piece opens up this historic cinema and uses its life blood, video, to completely give new meaning to the building. The cinema had been closed for four years and will close again when Parasimpatico finishes on December 18th. All things die eventually. Even a building with a nervous system.

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