Performer: Tom Fitzpatrick
Bill Viola began experimenting with the possibilities of video as an art form early in the 1970s. He explores and manipulates the specific characteristics of his medium, such as light and linear time, by speeding up, slowing down and reversing his footage. He uses different cameras to create particular atmospheres, ranging from black-and-white surveillance footage to high-end video transferred from 35mm film.
Viola has long been interested in eastern religions and more recently in Christian iconography, in particular images that evoke our ephemeral existence on earth. ‘Observance’ is from ‘The passions’ series. In this work figures move out of the dark towards the portal of the screen, gazing beyond the frame into the viewer’s space as if into a tomb and then with a melancholy air they move away. ‘Six heads’ explores a range of human passions while in ‘Bodies of light' a male and a female stand in water while a globe of light moves up and down their bodies, eventually dissolving their forms.
digital tape (betacam) shown as single channel digital video, colour, silent, plasma screen
5/12 [Edition of 12 plus 2 Artist's Proofs]
duration: 00:20:00 min; aspect ratio: 9:16; plasma 102.1 x 61.0 x 8.9 cm
Signature & date
Signed l.l. certificate of authenticity, blue fibre-tipped pen "Bill Viola". Not dated.
Gift of the John Kaldor Family Collection 2011. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Bill Viola
Shown in 3 exhibitions
Journey to now: John Kaldor art projects and collection, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 18 Apr 2003–06 Jul 2003
John Kaldor Family Collection Artist Room #2 - Francis Alys and Bill Viola:
- Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre 22 Mar 2014–04 May 2014
- Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest, Emu Plains 31 May 2014–24 Aug 2014
- Newcastle Art Gallery, Newcastle 15 Aug 2015–01 Nov 2015
Shadow Catchers, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Feb 2020–2021
Referenced in 3 publications
Adam Free, Journey to now: John Kaldor art projects and collection, Adelaide, 2003, 43 (colour illus.), 61.
Wayne Tunnicliffe (Editor), John Kaldor family collection: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2011, 257, 262-63 (colour illus.).
John Walsh, Bill Viola: The Passions, 2003, 92-95 (illus.), 269.