Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain to showcase American artist Bill Viola retrospective

The video art master’s works are paid homage to through a showcase of his best work across the years

Jun 15, 2017 | By AFP Relaxnews

Chott el-Djerid (A Portrait in Light and Heat), 1979. Videotape, color, mono sound; 28:00 minutes. Courtesy Bill Viola Studio. © Bill Viola Photo

From June 30 to November 9, 2017, the Guggenheim Museum’s Spanish outpost in Bilbao will be showing a retrospective of the work by the American artist Bill Viola. The exhibition spans the career of this pioneer of video art, from his early videotape projects to high-definition creations from the new millennium.

Bill Viola was introduced to video at Syracuse University in New York in the early 1970s. During his time at the faculty, he met David Ross (curator of video art) and assisted iconic figures in media art like Peter Campus and Nam June Paik at the Everson Museum of Art. Inspired by philosophy, poetry and mysticism, the American artist used video to explore the human condition and its processes of change, rebirth and transformation, which became recurring themes in his work.

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao will explore the artist’s whole career with a thematic and chronological exhibition. The show starts with the artist’s early single-channel videotapes, including “Four Songs” from 1976, described by the artist as “a collection of four musical stories in allegorical form. Images and sound are composed into audio-visual rhythms based on the psychological/emotional dynamics of the individual interaction with the environment.” Other early pieces, “Junkyard Levitation” and “Songs of Innocence,” already evoke characteristics of Viola’s work with the use of repetition, slow motion and long dissolves.

Chott el-Djerid (A Portrait in Light and Heat), 1979. Videotape, color, mono sound; 28:00 minutes. Courtesy Bill Viola Studio. © Bill Viola Photo

The arrival of the new millennium and the advent of high-definition and flatscreen technology influenced the artist’s work and the format of his creations. Bill Viola began producing small- and medium-format works in a series entitled “Passions.” He also used high-definition technology to create “Catherine’s Room,” “Four Hands” and “Surrender,” all from 2001.

Alongside the exhibition, visitors will have access to an additional “Didactic Space,” where they can discover the artist’s recent work, including partnerships outside of the museum context, such as in churches, historic sites and theaters. His notebooks will also be on display.

Bill Viola’s first feature-length film “I Do Not Know What It Is I Am Like,” dating from 1989, will be screened July 6. The documentary “The Passing Times,” which sees Viola recount the creative process of “The Passing” (1991), will screen September 29.

“Bill Viola: A Retrospective” runs June 30 to November 9, 2017, at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

For more information, do visit Guggenheim.

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