Bill Viola: Gallery Exhibition at 48 Walker Street

February 25 - March 25, 2023
  • Since the early 1970s, Bill has focused his practice on works which probe universal human experiences—birth, death, and the unfolding of human consciousness—in poetic videos and immersive installations rooted in the traditions of Zen Buddhism, Islamic Sufism, and Christian mysticism.
    This exhibition features two seminal early installations, He Weeps for You, 1976, and The Reflecting Pool, 1977-9/1997, that employ the element of water as both a metaphor for cycles of rebirth and renewal, and a lens for the variabilities of human perception. Both works demonstrate Viola’s singular capacity to synthesize philosophical inquiry with formal innovation and technical experimentation.
  • The Reflecting Pool



  • The Reflecting Pool, 1977-9 /1997, is a meditation on the body in time and space that employs a sophisticated approach to nascent video editing technology to complicate perception. In The Reflecting Pool, the artist emerges from the forest and stands before a pool of water. He leaps up and time suddenly stops. All movement and change in the otherwise still scene is limited to the reflections and undulations on the surface of the pond. Time becomes extended and punctuated by a series of events seen only as reflections in the water, building a tension between stasis and motion. The work describes the emergence of the individual into the natural world, a baptism into a world of virtual images and indirect perceptions.

  • “A man emerges from a forest and stands before a pool of water. He leaps up and time suddenly stops....

    Installation view, Bill Viola: Into the Light, Stavanger Art Museum, Norway, January 23 - August 15, 2021.

    “A man emerges from a forest and stands before a pool of water. He leaps up and time suddenly stops. All movement and change in the otherwise still scene is limited to the reflections and undulations on the surface of the pond. Time becomes extended and punctuated by a series of events seen only as reflections in the water. The work describes the emergence of the individual into the natural world, a baptism into a world of virtual images and indirect perceptions.” — Bill Viola

  • He Weeps for You

  • In He Weeps for You, one of Viola’s first video installations, the artist employs the then-cutting-edge technology of closed-circuit live video to make the present immediately tangible, collapsing the remove between image and viewer. Within a darkened room, a copper pipe extends from the ceiling, terminating in a small brass valve positioned at about head height, from which water drips at a very slow rate.

  • A live color video camera with a close-up macro lens focuses on the single droplet as it emerges. This image is projected on a large screen at the back of the room. The optical properties of the waterdrop cause it to act like a wide-angle lens, revealing an image of a room and those within it.

  • As Viola wrote in notes accompanying a 1976 drawing for He Weeps for You, “each time they are revealed within...

    Installation view, Projects: Bill Viola, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, NY, 1979. Kira Perov © Bill Viola Studio.

    As Viola wrote in notes accompanying a 1976 drawing for He Weeps for You, “each time they are revealed within the drop, it falls, destroying the tiny world within and themselves along with it.” Then, in an endless cycle of repetition, a new droplet of water begins to emerge and again fills the screen.


  • About the Artist

    Bill Viola (b.1951) is widely recognized as one of the leading video artists on the international scene. For over 40 years he has created videotapes, architectural video installations, sound environments, electronic music performances, and works for television broadcast. Viola’s video installations—total environments that envelop the viewer in image and sound—employ state-of-the-art technologies and are distinguished by their precision and direct simplicity. His single channel videotapes have been broadcast and presented cinematically around the world, while his writings have been published and anthologized for international readers.
    Viola represented the U.S. at the 46th Venice Biennale in 1995, premiering an ensemble of five new installation works titled Buried Secrets. In 1997 the Whitney Museum of American Art organized Bill Viola: A 25-Year Survey, an exhibition that travelled for two years to six museums in the United States and Europe. He was invited to be a Scholar-in-Residence at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles in 1998, and later that year created a suite of three new video pieces for the rock group Nine Inch Nails’ world tour. His 1994 videofilm Déserts, created to accompany the music composition of the same name by Edgard Varèse, received its American premiere at the Hollywood Bowl in August 1999 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. In 2002, Viola completed his most ambitious project, Going Forth By Day, a five part projected digital “fresco” cycle in high definition video, which was on view in Bill Viola: Visions at the ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum in Denmark in 2005. Following the completion of a four-month exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles in early 2003, Bill Viola: The Passions travelled to the National Gallery London later that fall, to the Fondación “La Caixa” in Madrid in early 2005, and subsequently to the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. In 2004 Viola began collaborating with director Peter Sellars and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen to create a new production of Richard Wagner’s opera, Tristan and Isolde, which was presented in project form by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in December 2004. The production of the complete opera received its world première at the L’Opéra National de Paris, Bastille in April 2005 (with a reprise in November) and was presented once more at the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles in March 2007, and in New York in April 2007, produced by the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.