Purple Art

[May 22 2014]

Bill Viola “Martyrs” permanent installation at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London

Bill Viola tells me today we are all floating in a river. Life is that river, with two unchangeable points at each end: birth and death. It finally explains the middle section of his Nantes Triptych, the lingering question I’ve had for nearly fifteen years. It also echoes (by choice? by circumstance?) the two works now in conversation with each other across the Thames. Standing on top of Wren, inside his space, under one of his largest windows, I am briefly all alone this morning with Martyrs. I have the piece to myself. It commands meditation. Crossing the quite literal river with Bill, having a lively chat about inspiring and being inspired—it’s the stuff of life. Now we move into Tiny Deaths. Focus on the line, it will help your eyes adjust to the darkness, he guides. The images take so long to emerge I begin to wonder if the video is working. When the ghostly figures take form, the disorientation fades and it all makes sense. Later, I hear a group of girls screaming, and watch them run from the installation in a panic. Text and Photo Flo Kohl

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