From her early music-video-style works to her later immersive projection environments, Rist’s unique artistic vocabulary is rooted in popular culture, technology, and historical feminist video art. Ever Is Over All is one of Rist’s first large-scale installations, giving spatial dimension to her lush visual language, which often combines imagery suggestive of female sexuality with enhanced images of nature and the everyday to create hypersaturated worlds that are part reality, part fantasy. Shot in a single take using consumer-grade video cameras, the work emphasizes the painterly qualities of standard-definition video, in which the pixels or “color noise” that compose the image are visible.
Here Rist transforms a destructive impulse into a hopeful, cathartic gesture. Accompanied by a dreamy musical soundtrack, the installation consists of two overlapping video projections. At left a woman proudly strides down a city sidewalk. She carries a tall flower of a variety that is also seen in the projection at right, which depicts a field of the large tropical blooms. Both videos have been slowed to a hypnotic pace, creating a sense of calm that is periodically disrupted when, in an inexplicable burst of violence, the protagonist forcefully swings the flower at the window of a parked car, which shatters dramatically; in a poetic use of magical realism, the flower is a weapon strong enough to break glass. Meanwhile, an approaching female police officer smiles and salutes her in approval.
Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
Ever Is Over All envelops viewers in two slow-motion projections on adjacent walls. In one a roving camera focuses on red flowers in a field of lush vegetation. The spellbinding lull this imagery creates harmonizes with the projection to its left, which features a woman in sparkling ruby slippers promenading down a car-lined street. The fluidity of both scenes is disrupted when the woman violently smashes a row of car windshields with the long-stemmed flower she carries. As the vandal gains momentum with each gleeful strike of her wand, an approaching police officer smiles in approval, introducing comic tension into this whimsical and anarchistic scene.
Gallery label from Out of Time: A Contemporary View, August 30, 2006–April 9, 2007.
Rist's imagery has several foundations, and invites just as many interpretations. Culled from resources as rich and varied as fairy tales, feminism, contemporary culture, and her own imagination, the artist's color-saturated, kaleidoscopic projections are a sophisticated visual amalgam of wit, humor, and irony.
Ever Is Over All is a video installation comprising two sharply contrasting projections on adjacent walls accompanied by a melancholic melody. On the right is a large field of bright-red long-stemmed flowers, filmed in close-up with a roving camera. On the left, filmed in medium- and long-shot, is a smiling young woman in a blue dress and red shoes. Walking toward the viewer in slow motion along a car-lined sidewalk, she suddenly raises what appears to be one of the blooms seen in the projection to the right, and, in a burst of inexplicable violence, uses it to smash the window of a parked vehicle. As she moves down the sidewalk and shatters another car window, a policewoman approaches from behind and offers a friendly salute in passing. The anarchic young woman gleefully carries on breaking windows.
Fiction-versus-reality is an important theme for Rist, in whose work an odd combination of nightmare and magic prevails over the logic of common sense. In Ever Is Over All, the artist juxtaposes the field and its flowers with her magically powerful wand, and transposes acts of aggression and annihilation into benevolent and creative ones.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 366.