Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Bill Viola Love/Death: The Tristan Project

Oh my god Bill Viola is so bad I don't believe it. If you imagine the media's stereotypical idea of a Video Artist, then this is it. I suppose that could be because he has been so successful over the years and so massively influential that he kind of wrote the template. But really, this show in particular is lame in all the worst ways.

Every cod-spiritual cliche in the book is pressed into service here. From the moody lighting to the films themselves, long, ponderous, portentous, and heavy on the symbolism. I think this is especially bad here becaue the works derive from another project, essentially background projections for an opera I think. So they generally look like what they are - purely visual mind candy - rather than having any sense of being works of art in themselves.

"When the flames of passion and fever finally engulf the iner eye, the reflecting surface is shattered and collapses into undulating wave patterns of pure light" says Bill, helpfully. And what do we get? A woman in front of a wall of flame.

The best looking work on the nifty plasma screens has water as a main surface component, and you start to wonder just how much of Viola's career has relied on the attractive effects of rippling water, which I'll happily admit are pretty gorgeous. But their inclusion in this exhibition only underlines the utter vacuousness of his work more generally, and makes me want to shake the art establishment by the throat until they come to their senses.

Naturally, the gallery is very busy with visitors lapping it up.


Anonymous canvas art said...

I love the way you talk about art :-)

3:02 pm  

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