From Publishers Weekly
It's not easy to encapsulate the work of a video artist in an exhibit catalogue, but Viola's art lends itself to stills and those stills to long scrutiny. His 20 recent videos called The Passions feature close-ups of faces on a black background distraught, happy or fearful frame-by-frame. Setting the work in a post- September-11th context, curator and former Getty Museum director Walsh finds that by displaying other human beings and thus ourselves in extremis, Viola bypasses the rational intellect and causes disturbances against which we are normally well defended. Disturbed, we are no longer mere spectators. Some of the work consists of a single performer moving through an arc of intensity, as in Dolorosa, but Going Forth by Day involved elaborate sets, stunt performers and hundreds of extras. As an exhibition catalogue (for a show currently at the Getty in Los Angeles) with a chronology, bibliography and essays by Walsh and theater director Peter Sellars, a multifaceted account of Viola's career and creative methods compete for attention with the work. Also included is a conversation between Viola and Hans Belting, a professor at the School For New Media, and an enticing reproduction of the artist's handwritten production notebook/journal How to take the intellect, clever, deceiving, insightful, and, through sheer force of will, forge it into the emotional? he asks himself in his nondescript print. Juxtaposed with the notebook entries are works by other artists from other ages mostly masters from the European Renaissance, as well as Indian and Arab masterworks. When one turns back to the emotive heads in Viola's still frames, human feeling crosses centuries.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
John Walsh is director emeritus of the Getty Museum and curator of the exhibition. Hans Belting is professor of art history and media theory at the School for New Media at Karlsruhe. Peter Sellars is a theatre, opera, and television director, and professor in the world arts and cultures department at the University of California, Los Angeles. Kira Perov is an arts administrator, editor, and widely-published photographer. She has worked closely with Bill Viola, her partner and husband since 1978.