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  • Writer's pictureDimitri Ozerkov

Bill Viola. The Silent Sea

When:   08.11.2014 - 23.11.2014

Where:  The Foyer of the Hermitage Theatre, Hermitage, Saint-Petersburg, Russia


The video work, ‘The Silent Sea’, from 2002, is at a glance full of simplicity and calmness. The slow-motion picture shows the spectator how powerful emotions slowly appear and disappear on faces of nine actors. At first the power of the emotions they feel gradually increases, then emotions reach their peak, and after several minutes the wave of tension collapses – leaving each participant tired and drained. Bill Viola (born in 1951) is a contemporary American artist and a pioneer of video art. In a 40-year career he has created many video works, architectural video installations, sound installations, musical performances, TV works and electronic musical performances. He is one of the most famous contemporary artists in the world. For his special style of working with video and sound, Bill Viola is known as The Rembrandt of Video Art. Viola’s style is quite eclectic – he borrows motifs from European Renaissance, Muslim and Buddhist art. Its range of problems includes the emotional states of a human being, time, borders of existence and non-existence, art and life. He actively uses light, color and music. His most famous works and series are ‘Nantes Triptych’, ‘Raft’ and ‘Passions’. Bill Viola’s works have been showcased many times in the world’s largest museums – in the National Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum, the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art МоМА in New York, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm and many art galleries in Great Britain, France, Israel, Brazil, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, USA and Japan. His permanent video installation, ‘Martyrs’ (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) was opened in May 2014 at St Paul’s Cathedral, London. Bill Viola will for the first time attend the opening of his exhibition in St. Petersburg. In 2003 the State Hermitage Museum, jointly with the ‘PRO-ARTE’ Foundation, exhibited the video installation ‘The Greeting’ (1995) for the first time in Russia, and in 2009 the Foundation exhibited the video installation ‘The Quintet of Remembrance’ (2000) in the Peter and Paul Fortress. This is the artist’s second visit to St. Petersburg. In 2008 Bill Viola and Kira Perov visited St. Petersburg for the premiere of the opera ‘Tristan and Isolde’, featuring Viola’s video, in the concert hall of the Mariinsky Theatre. The Curator of the exhibition ‘Bill Viola. The Silent Sea’ is D.Y. Ozerkov, Director of the Department of Modern Art of the State Hermitage Museum.

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