The Messenger

Bill Viola

Archive Exhibitions (11 November to 17 December 2000)
The Messenger is wonderful in its simplicity. On screen, large shafts of light reveal a mysterious figure slowly emerging and then disappearing again into deep blue-black water. At its climax a single breath rings out to break the silence, the sound resonating throughout the gallery. No gimmicks, no controversy, it is the anticipation of this one sound that makes The Messenger so poetic.
The Messenger by Bill Viola is a video installation that invites the viewer to meditate and reflect.

The Messenger dives into the spiritual depths of life.Breathing resonates throughout the space and gives an almost ritual rhythm to the harmoniously changing landscape of the vision created by the artist.Inhaling and exhaling is vital for a human being, is an act that is only realised when breathing discipline or lack of oxygen make it overwhelmingly clear.

Originally commissioned for Durham Cathedral by the Chaplaincy to the Arts & Recreation in North East England in 1996, The Messenger has a resonating presence in Fabrica.

About The Artist

Bill Viola (b.1951) is internationally recognized as one of today’s leading artists. He has been instrumental in the establishment of video as a vital form of contemporary art, and in so doing has helped to greatly expand its scope in terms of technology, content, and historical reach. For 40 years he has created videotapes, architectural video installations, sound environments, electronic music performances, flat panel video pieces, and works for television broadcast. Viola’s 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. They are shown in museums and galleries worldwide and are found in many distinguished collections.

His single channel videotapes have been widely broadcast and presented cinematically, while his writings have been extensively published, and translated for international readers. Viola uses video to explore the phenomena of sense perception as an avenue to self-knowledge. His works focus on universal human experiences—birth, death, the unfolding of consciousness—and have roots in both Eastern and Western art as well as spiritual traditions, including Zen Buddhism, Islamic Sufism, and Christian mysticism. Using the inner language of subjective thoughts and collective memories, his videos communicate to a wide audience, allowing viewers to experience the work directly, and in their own personal way.

Viola exhibition darker v2
Durham cathedral
Tree of life
Tree and light


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