We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Six heads



Bill Viola

United States of America

25 Jan 1951 –

  • Details

    Media category
    Time-based art
    Materials used
    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
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Bill Viola

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Bill Viola

    Works in the collection


  • About

    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.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 3 publications

Other works by Bill Viola

See all 6 works