press release

The imposing oeuvre of this 46-year-old video pioneer takes centre stage in this first large-scale survey exhibition of the American video artist Bill Viola. Installations and video tapes will be shown spread through the partially darkened galleries.

Together with his old friend, theatre-maker Peter Sellars, Viola has designed a surprising staging for the Stedelijk Museum, in which visitors are surrounded by image and sound. With more than 15 installations, 20 videotapes and a selection of his sketches and notes, the Museum seeks to do justice to this much discussed and influential artist.

Bill Viola has a unique place in the three-decade-old history of video art. His professional manner of working and strong visual aesthetic definitively lifted video art out of the underground circuit. Viola's themes are classic and refer to the essence of existence: birth, mortality and death. His installations often confront the viewer in an unavoidable and insistent way. Some of his sources of inspiration, such as Christian mysticism, Zen Buddhism and Renaissance painting, are clearly recognizable in his work.

This can be demonstrated, for example, in his 1983 installation Room for St. John of the Cross, which is dedicated to the Spanish mystic Juan de la Cruz, and was to be seen at the Stedelijk Museum in 'The Luminous Image' in 1984. Viola combines recordings of poems by this 16th century saint, referring to mystic ecstasy, with the sound of storms and projections of mountain landscapes. Apart from this installation the Stedelijk will show a.o. 'The Sleep of Reason' (1988), 'Angel's Gate' (1989), 'The Stopping Mind' (1991), 'Heaven and Earth' (1992) and 'The Crossing' (1996).

Additional locations At the request of Bill Viola, four installations at other sites are being added to the presentation in the Stedelijk Museum. Works by Viola will also be seen in the Rijksmuseum, newMetropolis, Felix Meritis and the World Trade Center. At Schiphol airport (Schiphol Approach) a video compilation of the artist's work is to be shown.

The exhibition has been organized in cooperation with the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. The special exhibition project is made possible by VEBA AG. The Amsterdam presentation is the first European stop and part of a tour which will also include Frankfurt, San Francisco and Chicago. The main sponsor in the Netherlands is Philips.

only in german

Bill Viola
25 year survey
A video journey