Bill Viola

Bill Viola. The Veiling (detail), 1995.
Bill Viola, The Veiling, 1995. Video and sound installation, including two channels of color video projections from opposite sides of dark gallery through nine scrims suspended from ceiling, two channels of amplified mono sound, and two speakers. 138 x 264 x 372 inches (ideal room dimensions). Photo Credit: Carlos Avendaño.

The Veiling was one of five video and sound installations that Bill Viola created to occupy the five rooms of the United States Pavilion during the 46th Venice Biennale in 1995. Working in collaboration with FWM, Viola created a system of nine sheer scrims that are hung parallel to one another and catch the light from video projections positioned on either end. Images of a man and a woman can be seen slowly walking toward each other, passing through the scrims, merging at the center, and then moving apart again. This ghostly action becomes hypnotic, repeating over and over. Like much of Viola’s work, The Veiling has a dream-like quality, and suggests the multiplicity of experience that exists both in our own thoughts and our understanding of our interaction with another human being.

In 1995, FWM exhibited The Greeting, the final video Viola created for the 1995 Venice Biennale. The richness of the color and detail of The Greeting is accentuated by the slow movement of the figures, a group of three women who approach one another until two embrace. Inspired by a sixteenth-century Italian masterpiece by Jacopo Carrucci da Pontormo depicting The Visitation, the video was recorded on highspeed 35mm film and then elongated to twelve times its original length. This simple sequence is mesmerizing to behold, as the nuances of gesture and the drape of flowing fabric are exaggerated by the filming technique.

Artist Bio

American, born 1951, lives in Long Beach, California.
Bill Viola earned his BFA from Syracuse University in 1973. He is regarded as a pioneer and leading artist in the field of video art. In addition to his selection as the representative from the United States at the 1995 Venice Biennale, his work has been the subject of many major museum exhibitions including a 25-year retrospective organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1997 (with a tour including the participation of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Art Institute of Chicago, among others). In 1989, Viola received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation award; previous awards include fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation (1982) and the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (1985). He has been awarded honorary doctoral degrees from Syracuse University (1995), California College of Arts and Crafts (1998), and Massachusetts College of Art (1999).