Tyngdkraft, var min vän (Gravity, Be My Friend)
It would take a whole book to describe the production of the work Gravity, Be My Friend—and that is just what we made. The book Congratulations! contains a conversation between me and Pipilotti Rist in which she recounts the ideas that led to this monumental work.
The first time I experienced Pipilotti’s work was at the Chisenhale Gallery in London in 1996. Two years later, I met her while I was working on exhibitions for the Arkipelag project during Stockholm’s year as European Capital of Culture 1998. In 2003 she was included in the exhibition Spiritus at Magasin III, and following the Venice Biennale that summer, in which Pipilotti participated, we began making concrete plans for the new work.
I spent several days at the Atelier Rist Sisters in Zürich in September 2006 in order to hash out details for the book, the selection of existing works for the exhibition, and the new work. The studio team had built a scale model of our large exhibition gallery at Magasin III, and this model hung from the ceiling of the studio with a large mattress underneath so that we could test the experience of looking at film from a reclining position. At this time, Pipilotti’s interests revolved around how we experience moving images when we are lying down. She worked extensively with situations in which one can, in her words, “foster a certain mildness towards oneself.” Our muscles are more relaxed when we are lying down, which affects our way of thinking, seeing, and experiencing. This work, says Pipilotti, offers “some time off—comparable to what a church visit used to be”—to spend “ostensibly unproductive time in order to compose oneself and to think.”
Gravity, Be My Friend is the biggest production we have done at Magasin III to date, especially in terms of size. The work has a surface area of 340 square meters in a gallery with five meter ceilings. In addition, no other work we have produced has involved so many people over such a long period. The installation period at Magasin III lasted for seven weeks. The two films included in the work were edited on-site and created by projecting the moving images directly onto the amorphous forms mounted on the ceiling—all in order to get a sense of how the work played out in this particular place with its unique conditions. The music was composed and recorded in the room while the films were being edited.
The overwhelming public response to the exhibition, and perhaps above all to Gravity, Be My Friend, was a thrilling experience for us as an institution. We had more visitors than ever before, who stayed for long periods in the exhibition and left visibly moved.
Richard Julin, June 2014