Under the premise that video can make the invisible, visible, Bill Viola (New York, 1951) addresses the complexity of human experience. In the twelve works that make up this exhibition he aims to break the predetermined view man has of the world. In the seven video installations made in 1992 and the five videos dated between 1976 and 1991, Viola offers the public a set of visual narratives that consist of pure images - that exist outside the metaphor - that manage and organise space as if they make up a collage. With these he aims to make the viewer reflect, through their connection, their opposition or their fusion, as happens in the video Heaven and Earth (1992).
After a first phase (1973-1979) characterised by the study of specific features and possibilities of video - during which his works reflect a clear experimental commitment - he immediately accepts the medium as a tool to analyse the limits of perception. As noted by the exhibition curator, Marie Luise Syring, "since Ancient Days (1979-1981) Bill Viola does not draw a clear distinction between reality and fiction, from this follows the dream" human action or his immersion in the aquatic environment, all contribute to marking the boundaries of the rational, the underworld, the unconscious and the dreamlike - they constitute the issues and scenarios on which he bases his work: The Reflecting Pool (1977-1979), Anthem (1983), The Sleepers (1992), Nantes Tryptych (1992), the axis of his narrative discourse being the contrast between birth and death, as in The Passing (1991).
Viola argues that human experience is based on a global perception of image and sound, the reason that time and sound are key factors in his videos. The artist gives time a value similar to that of light in painting and photography insofar as the duration of the action, while he assumes sound as a physical material, elastic and mouldable. As the contemporary art expert, Rolf Lauter points out, "sounds or noises refer to physical reality, that is to say, the context of existence, while images on the other hand, refer to phenomenological reality, that is to say, the reality of appearances." Also worth noting is that the idea of landscape, which he uses to encourage active contemplation of nature, links to a cyclical concept of life as well as a cultural and theoretical background that includes references to eastern philosophy, to the medieval mystics and San Juan de la Cruz, to William Blake and Walt Whitman’s visionary poetry, for in all of them, as says Syring, "he finds the correspondence between microcosm and macrocosm."
Städtische Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf (February 19 - February 28, 1993); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (April 8 - May 23, 1993); Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland (September 11 - November 28, 1993); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (December 16, 1993 - February 13, 1994)