Bill Viola at the Museum of Montserrat
04 / 10 / 2019

The Montserrat Museum shows this fall a piece by Bill Viola (Queens, New York, 1951), the greatest performer of video art around the world. Montserrat is one of the institutions that collaborates with the Catalunya La Pedrera Foundation, which has promoted the Bill Viola exhibition Mirrors of the unseen, curated by Llucià Homs and Kira Perov, the artist's wife. It is the first time that a monographic show is dedicated to Bill Viola in Catalonia, and this brings together an important set that explains the essential topics of his artistic production, based on a deep spirituality, which faces the main concerns of existence: life, death, suffering, loneliness, love... Considered one of the pioneers of video art, he masterfully uses sophisticated audiovisual technologies to explore and express a constant concern for the nature of human beings and the transience of life.

The work that can be seen in the Montserrat Museum is untitled Observance (2002) and it has been located on the ground floor of the museum. The installation has required the dismantling of a permanent exhibition room, right next to contemporary art, so that the public will see the video almost at the end of the museum visit. In Observance, the viewer watches a steady stream of people that slowly moves forward toward us. One by one they pause at the head of the line, overcome with emotion. Their gazes are fixed on an unknown object just out of sight below the edge of the frame. An air of solemnity and sorrow pervades the scene.  Individuals sometimes touch each other gently or exchange brief glances as they pass. Couples comfort one another in their shared grief. All are unified by their common desire to reach the front of the line and make contact with what is there. Once their solitary moment is fulfilled, they move to the back of the line to make way for the others.
The event spreads from La Pedrera to other institutions besides Montserrat: Bòlit - Center of Contemporary Art in Girona, the Episcopal Museum of Vic and the Sorigué Foundation in de Lleida. There will also be activities at the Palau de la Música and at the Gran Teatre del Liceu.

Bill Viola
Museu de Montserrat
03/10/2019 – 06/01/2020
Observance, 2002
Color high-definition video on flat panel display mounted vertically on wall
47 1/2 x 28 1/2 x 4 in.
10:14 minutes

Performers: Alan Abelew, Sheryl Arenson, Frank Bruynbroek, Carol Cetrone, Cathy Chang, Ernie Charles, Alan Clark, JD Cullum, Michael Irby, Tanya Little, Susan Matus, Kate Noonan, Paul O’Connor, Valerie Spencer, Louis Stark, Richard Stobie, Michael Eric Strickland, Ellis Williams.

Photography: © Bill Viola Studio