Pipilotti Rist is one of twenty artists included in “Garden of Earthly Delights,” an international group exhibition currently on view at the Gropius Bau in Berlin. The exhibition examines how artists use the space of the garden as a metaphor for the state of the world, in an exploration of the complexities of our chaotic and increasingly precarious present.
Alongside the classical reading of the garden as a secluded and circumscribed place of yearning full of meditative, spiritual, and philosophical possibilities, it is viewed in the exhibition as a place of duality and contradiction: a threshold between reality and fantasy, utopia and dystopia, harmony and chaos, between being shut out and being included.
In today’s era, defined by radical climate change and migratory flows, the garden can be seen as a place of paradise and exile, reflecting within its borders themes as pressing as the anthropocene, seed politics, the legacies of colonialism and historical segregation. In addition to deliberate political positions, the Garden of Earthly Delights features works that also bring to life the sensual dimensions of gardens: immersive installations and video works show an intensive abundance of nature, but also the fragility of the paradise-like state.
The exhibition’s combining of the paradisiacal and the catastrophic takes its inspiration from Hieronymus Bosch’s 15th-century triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights, which also provides the exhibition its title. A version of the central panel of the painting dating from 1535 to 1550, created by the school of Hieronymus Bosch, provides a point of departure for the exhibition.