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Bill Viola «The Greeting»
Bill Viola, «The Greeting», 1995
Photography | Photograph: Kira Perov | © Bill Viola

United States | Archive / Collection: Kramlich Collection, San Francisco | video installation

 Bill Viola
«The Greeting»

«The Greeting» reaches back to take hold of artistic and historical origins. Serving in particular as the model for this piece is the painting of the same name by Italian mannerist Jacopo da Pontormo, dating from 1528-1529. With modern technical means, Viola creates a reenactment of the work and, in doing so, comments on both the history of salvation and the tradition of painting. While in his painting the Italian master strives to capture this key moment in all its lucidity – Maria and Elisabeth are on the verge of a spiritual immersion – and leaves the viewer imagining the silent dialog, thanks to video technology, Viola is given access to the possibility of making the painting unfold in time. Part of the work’s refinement lies, of course, in not resorting to a simple retelling, but rather in Viola’s way of establishing contact with the actual medium by reducing the video’s speed, and stretching the real time of the film from 55 seconds to 10 minutes. This produces the irritating effect of a slow and imperceptibly moving image. As though the alterable emerges from an inner dynamic.
The estranging effect is fueled by Viola’s stylistic reference to Pontormo’s tableaux.[...]
Bill Viola, well-read and classically educated, takes an intensive look at the great religions of mankind. He has a special preference for Buddhism, and an overflowing admiration for Japanese No-Theater – whose principal feature lies in alternating between expanded movements and sounds delayed in time and suddenly applied, spontaneous accelerations and volumes, thus creating an awareness of time, a sensitivity for perceiving time in itself.

(Source: Barbara Könches in: «Seeing Time», Kramlich Collection: