Friday, 3 September 2010

Bill Viola's 'The Raft' on show at ACMI

Bill Viola. Photo by Kira Perov
Renowned American video artist Bill Viola brings to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) his powerful video installation The Raft for a celebration of this acclaimed artist's work as part of the 2010 Melbourne International Arts Festival (MIAF) and the 21st Kaldor Public Art Project.

The Raft (2004) shows a group of men and women from various ethnic and economic backgrounds waiting in line. Suddenly they are struck by a massive onslaught of water that knocks over some, while others brace themselves and fight for survival. Water flies everywhere, clothing and bodies are pummelled, faces and limbs contort in stress and agony against the cold, hard force. Then, as suddenly as it arrived, the water stops, leaving behind a band of suffering, bewildered, and battered individuals.

The action in The Raft is recorded in high-speed film and unfolds in extreme slow motion to reveal subtle nuances of the light and colour in the explosive impact of the water and the individual expressions and gestures of the figures in the face of an overwhelming assault. Described by the artist as "an image of destruction and survival", this powerful and extremely moving work is a symbol of hope in the difficult times we find ourselves.

Pioneering American artist Bill Viola has been instrumental in the establishment of video as a vital form of contemporary art. His video installations - total environments that envelop the viewer in image and sound - employ state-of-the-art technologies and are distinguished by their precision and direct simplicity.

For over 40 years he has created videotapes, architectural video installations, sound environments, electronic music performance, flat panel video pieces and works for television broadcast, and his next major commission is the creation of two permanent altar pieces for St Paul's Cathedral in London.

The ACMI exhibition will be shown in conjunction with Viola's major works Fire Woman and Tristan's Ascension (The Sound of a Mountain Under a Waterfall), both on display at St Carthage's Catholic Church, Parkville. For the duration of the Festival the Church is turned into a video art shrine complete with the latest technology, surround sound and enveloping operatic narrative. Shown in a continuous loop, these two works combine for a 20-minute visual and aural experience that extends Viola's lifelong engagement with the human condition into ancient themes of life, love and death.

Viola will visit Australia for these events and will appear at ACMI for Bill Viola In Conversation - a rare opportunity to hear one of the world's most renowned contemporary artists discuss his remarkable work.

The Raft is a free admission exhibition in ACMI's Gallery 2 opening on Thursday 7 October as part of the 2010 Melbourne International Arts Festival's visual arts program. The exhibition is open daily from 10am to 6pm until Sunday 20 February, 2011. 

Curated by Alessio Cavallaro and Kate Warren

"Viola's filmic eye channels light like a Caravaggio brushstroke." - Australian Financial Review Magazine

"Viola's videos are not only mind blowing in concept, they are stunningly beautiful"- Vogue Australia

Exhibition copy of The Raft is on loan from Bill Viola Studio.

Further information

Claire Butler
Communications Coordinator
[direct phone] 61 3 8663 2415 [fax] 61 3 8663 2498 [mobile] 0434 603 654
[email] claire.butler@acmi.net.au  
 
 
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