Video-art pioneer Bill Viola believes that cameras are the keepers of souls. From the moment he first picked up a video camera as an art student in 1970, he was captured by the technology. The exhibition “Bill Viola and the Moving Portrait” is the National Portrait Gallery’s first exhibition devoted to media art.
This exhibition reveals Viola’s constant, yet previously unrecognized, thematic interest in portraiture. “Bill Viola and the Moving Portrait” offers a selection of Viola’s works that focus on the face and the body, using his signature metaphors of water, light and spirituality. Unlike the selfies we see on social media each day, Viola’s works connect viewers of all backgrounds by using cutting-edge technology to create moving images that are emotional, searing, and profound. The exhibition includes Viola’s most contemplative portraits, such as his recent dual portrait of old age, Man Searching for Immortality/Woman Searching for Eternity (2013).
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether you go or not, Bill Viola, is the first monograph to chart Viola’s career in full, covering his education in New York, his earliest major films, his retrospective at the Whitney Museum in 1997, and his recent installations in Venice, New York, Tokyo, London, and Berlin. Renowned curator and specialist in video art John Hanhardt outlines the key visual, literary, and spiritual influences in Viola’s work and his changing approach to the medium of film as its technology advances. Woven into the discussion are illustrations of Viola’s most significant works, including Information (1973), The Passing (1991), The Greeting (1995), Going Forth by Day (2002), and Martyrs, the 2014 film commissioned for St Paul’s Cathedral in London, as well as reproductions of Viola’s sketches and notebooks that bring his working process to life. 400+ illustrations.