Voilá, Viola


Video art might not be the first medium to come to mind when one goes to the Indianapolis Museum of Art. However, as one enters a dark room and approaches the screen, he or she will be met with the original and innovative video art of Bill Viola.

The video depicts the artist as he is destroyed by fire and water, alongside a depiction of a group of men’s facial expressions meant to depict pain and suffering. 

The exhibit was recently brought to the IMA to showcase Viola’s works “The Crossing” and “The Quintet of the Silent.”

The exhibitions are displayed on the fourth floor of the IMA. The fourth floor showcases contemporary art and displays pieces of art created after 1945, while the June M. McCormack Forefront Galleries offer temporary exhibitions.  

These exhibits are available for free viewing and are only a short walk or drive from Butler’s campus.

“I visit the IMA all the time,” freshman Jimmy Lardin said. “I continue to go because I always find something new every time I go.”

Viola’s exhibit was introduced to the IMA in late September. 

Viola, an American video artist, creates innovative works through technology. 

He has been called “a pioneer of video art.”

“The Crossing” video begins with the artist slowly walking forward.

Videos of fire and water are shown on a split screen and slowly begin to reach the artist. Soon, he is engulfed in flames and disintegrated by water.  

As the flame or water fades away, the screen is blank, the artist gone.

“The two traditional natural elements of fire and water appear here not only in their destructive aspects, but manifest their cathartic, purifying, transformative and regenerative capacities as well. In this way, self-annihilation becomes a necessary means to transcendence and liberation,” according to the plaque next to the piece. 

The second selection, “The Quintet of Silent,” features what appears to be a photo of a group of men on a monitor screen. 

Upon closer inspection, the men are not still but moving slightly, creating the movement of the video. 

This is meant to be the emotional experience of the body and mind from each person represented. 

“Each person experiences an extreme emotional arc conveyed through face and body,” according to the plaque. 

In both pieces Viola experiments with basic human emotion and suffering through the use of silent video.

The exhibit, “Bill Viola: Capturing Spectacle and Passion,” will be exhibited on the fourth floor of the IMA until Jan. 20, 2015.