Bill Viola

Although the Adelaide Festival of Arts is coming to a close, the highlight of the visual art programme was definitely the works of Bill Viola.  Never before has a collection of Viola’s work been experienced on such a scale in Australia.  A master of the video art medium, his work is dramatic and thought-provoking.  The Artistic Director of the Festival David Sefton sums up Viola’s work;

“Viola’s work ranges from the intimate to the epic while always retaining elements of deep spirituality and thoughtfulness; poignant, often moving and always evocative.  Viola is without doubt one of the artists responsible for video art being considered an art form worthy of proper attention…”

7 large-scale works were installed over 3 venues – The Art Gallery of South Australia, St Peter’s Cathedral and Queen’s Theatre.  Many of these works have never been seen before in Australia and were drawn from his extensive collection of works from 1996 – 2012.  I had the privilege of attending a forum with Bill Viola and Kira Perov in which he discussed his art practice and the concepts behind many of his works.

Fire Woman 2005, Colour High-Definition video projection

Fire Woman 2005 (still sequence), Colour High-Definition video projection, 4 channel sound (4.1), 11:12 mins

The above images were taken from Fire Woman which depicts the silhouette of a female figure standing before a wall of flames. After a few moments, she steps forward, opens her arms and falls into her own reflection…

When the flames of passion and fever finally engulf the inner eye, and the realisation that desire’s body will never again be met blinds the seer, the reflecting surface is shattered and collapses into its essential form – undulating wave patterns of pure light…

– as printed in the exhibition catalogue

The above work in addition to Tristan’s Ascension were exhibited in the old Queen’s Theatre, a fantastic venue that provided an encapsulating audience experience.

Tristan's Ascension 2005, Colour High-Definition video projection, 4 channel sound (4.1), 10:16 mins

Tristan’s Ascension 2005, Colour High-Definition video projection, 4 channel sound (4.1), 10:16 mins

Tristan’s Ascension describes the ascent of the soul in the space after death as it is awakened and drawn up in a backwards flowing waterfall.  Both of these works are only on display until 10pm tomorrow 15th March.  There are another 4 works being exhibited at the Art Gallery of South Australia until Sun 29th March.  More information on the works of Bill Viola can be found at his official website www.billviola.com

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1 Comment

Filed under Adelaide, art, festival/exhibition info, gallery exhibition, installations, video

One response to “Bill Viola

  1. I agree that Bill Viola had some amazing work on display. I have always been a big fan of his but some of his stuff at the Festival was truly sensational.

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