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Bill Viola: The Road to St. Paul's

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Bill Viola: The Road to St. Paul's


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This powerful documentary follows the world’s most influential video artist Bill Viola and his wife and close collaborator Kira Perov over a twelve-year period as they undertake and complete the installation of two permanent video works, Mary and Martyrs (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. 

In documenting Viola’s approach, the award-winning arts documentary director Gerald Fox captures the essence of Viola’s creative process, along with the significant changes that occur in these two figures over the lengthy time period. He also looks back at the career of this seminal artist, who since the early 1970s has taken video art to a new level of acceptance in contemporary art.

Bill Viola is an American video and installation artist known for exploring themes of spirituality and existential introspection. In his work The Crossing (1996), Viola’s interest in technology as a means to convey mysticism is externalized. Using a double-sided projection screen, the artist displays a torrent of water falling upon and covering a figure, followed in the video loop by the same figure being engulfed in flames. “The fundamental aspect of video is not the image, even though you can stand in amazement at what can be done electronically, how images can be manipulated and the really extraordinary creative possibilities,” he once reflected. “For me the essential basis of video is the movement—something that exists at the moment and changes in the next moment.” Born on January 25, 1951 in New York, NY, he received his BFA in experimental studio art in 1973 from Syracuse University.

Throughout his career, Viola has employed ever newer technologies to create electronic music, video installations, and television broadcasts. For the Venice Biennale in 1995, Viola created The Greeting, a video that reinterprets the 16th-century Italian artist Pontormo’s religious painting, Visitation (1528-1529), into a secular drama of similar intensity. Viola currently lives and works in Long Beach, CA.

Today, his works are held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, among others.

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