Bill Viola, Orkney

Opening Hours

Mon - Sat 10:30am - 5:00pm
Sun 12:00pm - 4:00pm


Victoria Street
KW16 3AA
United Kingdom


American video artist Bill Viola is arguably the most influential video artist at work today, having helped to establish the form as a viable medium for contemporary art. The slow and contemplative nature of the artist's work considers human experience from birth through to death. Deceptively simple in style and widely engaging, his works also reflect his interest in painting and photography.

This exhibition at the Pier Arts Centre included three Viola works from the famous Passions series: Catherine’s Room 2001, Silent Mountain 2001 andFour Hands 2001. The series is an exploration of human emotions that express suffering and transcendence, inspired in large part by Viola’s study of devotional paintings of the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance and by his experience of personal loss. While the Passions pieces are silent the fourth work in the exhibition, Ascension 2000, is a large-scale projection that fills the room with image and sound. It illustrates the cyclical nature of birth and death as a figure plunges into the water from above, accompanied by a roaring sound. He then moves slowly through an aqueous world ascending to the surface, only to descend involuntarily once again, disappearing into the darkness below the edge of the frame. Then the cycle begins anew.

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