Bill Viola

Since the beginning of the 1970s, Bill Viola (b. 1951) has explored the technical and aesthetic possibilities of video as an art form. By paying close attention to the relationships between images, sounds, space and the viewer, he creates video works and installations that explore spiritual, philosophical and psychological themes. They address ideas about life and death, the relation between the inner and outer world – the visible and the invisible.

The symbolism of water is a recurring theme in his artistic practice, both as a purifying and a destructive force of nature. In Tristan’s Ascension water is a powerful symbol with strong symbolic undertones. The work is part of The Tristan Project, a series of video works made for a new production of Richard Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde (1857-59). The opera is based on the medieval legend of the tragic romance between the knight Tristan and the princess Isolde.

Man Searching for Immortality / Woman Searching for Eternity is a two-channel video installation. The naked body has had a central position in art history since antiquity, but often in its idealised form. Age and bodily decay are taboos in our culture. Through the simple yet poetic nature of this work, the artist touches on core themes in human existence.

Chapel of Frustrated Actions and Futile Gestures is a complex arrangement of nine individual plasma screens positioned in three horizontal rows with nine channels of sound. Each panel presents activities executed in a slow and steady rhythm. The video is looped so there appears to be no end to the cycles. The ritualistic actions render each futile endeavour all the more poignant.

All of the works have been deposited by Tone Veen and Tor Dagfinn Veen.