Bill Viola

Bill Viola
Friday 12th June 10am – Monday 26th October 4pm
Auckland Castle plays host to a major arts installation that evocatively responds to its context, and challenges all your senses and preconceptions about faith.

Earth Martyr, Air Martyr, Fire Martyr, and Water Martyr are four individual works by Bill Viola derived from his large-scale video installation Martyrs (Earth, Air, Fire, Water), unveiled at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, in May 2014. Unsettling yet beautiful, these works offer a profound contemplation on the nature of faith, suffering, sacrifice, and death.

Through the medium of video, Viola reflects on the fundamental meaning of martyrdom.
He writes, ‘The Greek word for martyr originally meant “witness.” In today’s world, the mass media turns us all into witnesses to the suffering of others. The martyrs’ past lives of action can help illuminate our modern lives of inaction. They also exemplify the human capacity to bear pain, hardship and even death in order to remain faithful to their values, beliefs and principles.’

Each silent video shows a man or woman being overcome by one of the four elements, immovable in the face of their physical agony.

Viola continues, ‘As the works open, four individuals are shown in stasis, a pause from their suffering. Gradually there is movement in each scene as an element of nature begins to disturb their stillness. Flames rain down, winds begin to lash, water cascades, and earth flies up. As the elements rage, each martyr’s resolve remains unchanged. In their most violent assault, the elements represent the darkest hour of the martyr’s passage through death into the light.’

This summer marks the 350th anniversary of the consecration of St Peter’s Chapel at Auckland Castle in 1665. A testament to the faith and vision of one man, Bishop John Cosin (1660–1672), this sacred space provides a contemplative setting for Bill Viola’s arresting artworks.

Open 10am – last admission 4pm, every day except Tuesdays.

Normal admission applies.

Auckland Castle
Bishop Auckland
County Durham
DL14 7NR

Phone: 01388 743 750

louise.alderson@aucklandcastle .org