Your Brain to Me, My Brain to You

A large-scale, immersive video installation, a journey of light and sound, by internationally renowned Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist that follows the National Museum of Qatar’s (NMoQ’s) tradition of commissioning site-specific artworks is on view from 21 March through 20 December 2022. This site-specific installation stands out as a room of self-discovery that allows museum-goers to attune themselves to Qatar’s past, present and future and will be accessible to hundreds of thousands of visitors expected for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

Pipilotti Rist’s installation – curated by Qatar Museums’ Curatorial Advisor, Tom Eccles, and NMoQ’s Head of Exhibitions, Bouthayna M Baltaji – invites visitors to embark on a journey of self-discovery through a multisensory experience that inspires introspection and awe. Your Brain to Me, My Brain to You symbolises humanity’s collective unconscious and the power of the mind.

Her Excellency Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums, said, “Visitors of all ages are sure to be captivated by Pipilotti Rist’s dazzling artwork Your Brain to Me, My Brain to You, a journey of light and sound that plunges participants into the intricacies of the human brain while at the same time sweeping them across the natural landscape of Qatar. I am thrilled to announce that after its initial presentation at the National Museum of Qatar, this specially commissioned artwork will be permanently installed at Dadu, Children’s Museum of Qatar, where it will be part of the future museum’s stimulating and inspiring family experiences in the heart of Doha.”

 A key feature of Your Brain to Me, My Brain to You are “pixels” that comprise 12,000 LED lights strung on cables throughout the gallery for visitors to navigate. Representing neurons, constantly firing and communicating with each other, the pulsing resin-encased bulbs have been programmed in choreography with a soundscape and featuring abstract footage of Qatar’s landscapes.

“In equal parts enlightening and enchanting, Pipilotti Rist’s spectacular installation invites us to recognise the array of emotions, interpretations, and the sheer capacity of the mind to absorb and withstand. As they make their way through the exhibit, we encourage visitors to turn off their screens and prepare to experience the journey fully, shifting their focus towards activating different senses,” says Baltaji.

 “This work is both a collective and individual experience. We want to understand what is happening inside the brain of the other. And culture is the main way to try to understand each other beyond language. I’m very much interested in rooms where people come together. Today, the electronic image is often separating us, everyone is looking to their own device. And then I’m searching for possibilities how we can use electronics as wonder lights to bring us together,” Rist explains.

Rist is no stranger to the visual interplay of large-scale audio-visual installations and deeper messages about humanity. Your Brain to Me, My Brain is inspired by NMoQ and the landscape, history, and people of Qatar. Following the trajectory of NMoQ – from early geology through the evolution of the Qatari people, pearling, oil exploration and the incredible growth of Qatar – the installation is a place for contemplation and awe.

While abstract in nature, Your Brain to Me, My Brain is rooted in Qatar with colours, pulsating light movements, and a dynamic three-layered soundscape mirroring the history and landscape of the nation. The installation, referred to as a “pixel forest”, inspires visitors to take a moment to reflect on their own mental well-being as well as consider that of others.

The exhibition highlights the museum’s commitment to raising awareness of mental health as a cornerstone of wellbeing, which aligns with Qatar’s healthcare sector’s ‘Are You OK?’ mental health campaign. It is also supports the goals of the partnership between MoPH, WHO, FIFA and the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which aims to make the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ a beacon for physical and mental health promotion, and a model for ensuring future mega sport events are healthy and safe.

Rist’s installation is being showcased at NMoQ in partnership with MoPH and HMC.

All Images Courtesy Qatar Museums.