Delphine Reist — Oil

© bettina matthiessen

Museum Tinguely
Until January 14, 2024

Work structures the life of the individual and of society as a whole. In Delphine Reist’s art, things take on a life of their own, offering their views on the movement and rhythm of production or speaking of efficiency and exhaustion: suddenly noisy drills, leaky printers, window blinds controlled by an invisible hand. At Museum Tinguely, the Geneva-based artist presents works that refer directly or indirectly to oil as an energy source, painting material, and lubricant, as well as to its fluid physical properties.

In works made using tires, tools, and buckets, the artist refers to handcraft and industrial labour—the latter, once massively relocated to low-wage countries, is now receiving renewed attention as part of discussions around overdependency on other states. In her video “Averse,” neon tubes fall one by one from the ceiling of an empty industrial space: in both real and figurative senses, the lights go out.

Other works address the theme of office work. Here, it is objects of material infrastructure like color printers, window blinds in perpetual random motion, or the marks left by endlessly circling office chairs that are used to critically reflect on forms of physically and intellectually alienated labor. Reist’s breathing sports bags remind us that under neoliberal capitalism, the benefits of “fitness”, “self-care” and “wellbeing” have been co-opted by the world of work as means of increasing efficiency and creating resilience to burnouts.

In her installation “Huiles” (2022), Reist questions the basis of our entire economy. A large number of red barrels stand in line, but they are not properly sealed. Drop by drop, trickles of fuel oil, motor oil, and vegetable oil run down the white wall.