Press Release

Bill Viola: The Veiling

June 3, 2019

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 Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM) is pleased to present Bill Viola: The Veiling, on view June 26 through October 6, 2019. The installation will be shown concurrently with a survey of works by the pioneering video artist at the Barnes Foundation, I Do Not Know What It Is I Am Like: The Art of Bill Viola, on view June 30 through September 15, 2019.

The Veiling (1995) is part of a series of video and sound installations that Viola produced for the five rooms of the US Pavilion during the 46th Venice Biennale. Working in collaboration with The Fabric Workshop (as FWM was then known), the artist created a system of parallel fabric veils to function both as sculptural elements and screens to catch the light of multiple projections. While the cloth resembles scrim—a loosely woven, gauze-like material frequently used in theatrical productions—the veils are made from a sheer Italian cloth used for curtains, employed for a fine weave that allows the projection to penetrate through successive layers.

In The Veiling, images of a man and a woman are seen passing through nine panels of transparent cloth, slowly walking toward each other and merging at the center before moving away again into the night. Using slow motion, Viola gives visual form to time and exposes gesture with hypnotic effect. The diffusion of male and female images may be interpreted as a fusion of opposites into one, suggesting our union with the elements of matter from which we emerged and to which we will return. Like much of the artist’s work, The Veiling explores both the individual’s experience of self and our understanding of human interaction.

While the Barnes presentation is the first large-scale exhibition of Bill Viola’s work to be shown in Philadelphia, the artist and his work have featured in the history of FWM for more than a quarter century. Viola’s studio work as an Artist-in-Residence at FWM dates back to the early 1990s; his works were included in the 1997 touring program Changing Spaces: Artists’ Projects from the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia as well as the 2002 traveling exhibition Material World: From Lichtenstein to Viola, 25 Years of The Fabric Workshop and Museum. More recently, The Veiling became part of the museum’s permanent collection through the bequest of Marion Boulton Stroud. FWM’s Executive Director, Susan Lubowsky Talbott, underscores the importance of this acquisition: “The transcendent experience of The Veiling is enhanced by Viola’s use of layered fabric as a backdrop for the projected images. This important gift expands FWM‘s collection and its two most critical areas of focus—textile and video.”

Following a press preview at the Barnes Foundation on Wednesday, June 26 from 9:30 to 11:30 am, guests will be invited to visit Bill Viola installations also on view at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) and FWM via a press van provided by PAFA and leaving from the Barnes. To attend the press preview, please RSVP by Friday, June 21 to [email protected]

Around Town
I Do Not Know What It Is I Am Like: The Art of Bill Viola
June 30 – September 15, 2019
Barnes Foundation

Bill Viola: Ocean Without a Shore
June 28, 2019 – December 31, 2019
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)

Curators in Conversation: Bill Viola
Tuesday, July 16, 6 – 7 pm, Barnes Foundation
Featuring Susan Talbott, executive director of The Fabric Workshop and Museum; Nancy Ireson, deputy director for collections and exhibitions & Gund Family Chief Curator at the Barnes; and Jodi Throckmorton, curator of contemporary art at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

About the Artist
Bill Viola (b. 1951, lives in Long Beach, California) 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 representing 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 (touring to 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 fellowships include the Rockefeller Foundation (1982) and the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (1985). He has received honorary doctoral degrees from Syracuse University (1995), California College of Arts and Crafts (1998), and Massachusetts College of Art (1999).


Press Contact

Media Contacts:
David Simantov, Blue Medium, Inc.
Tel: +1-212-675-1800
[email protected]

Philadelphia-based inquiries:
Erin Sweeny, FWM Communications
Tel: 215-561-8888 x224
[email protected]


Partners & Funding

Major support of FWM is provided by the Marion Boulton “Kippy” Stroud Foundation. FWM receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Additional support is provided by The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, Philadelphia Cultural Fund, Agnes Gund, and the Board of Directors and Members of The Fabric Workshop and Museum.


About the Fabric Workshop and Museum

Founded in 1977, FWM both makes and presents, encouraging artists to experiment with new materials and new media in a veritable living laboratory. Through its renowned Artist-in-Residence (AIR) Program, FWM collaborates with artists to expand their practices, while documenting the course of artistic production from inspiration to realization. FWM presents large-scale exhibitions, installations, and performative work, utilizing fiber and other innovative media.