“Inverted Birth” is the gallery’s seventh solo exhibition by internationally acclaimed video artist. Featured are six major works created between 2012 and 2014: Ancestors, Inverted Birth and four pieces from the Martyrs series
James Cohan is pleased to present Inverted Birth, the gallery’s seventh solo exhibition by internationally acclaimed video artist Bill Viola, on view from December 10 through January 30.
Featured are six major works created between 2012 and 2014: Ancestors (2012), Inverted Birth (2014), and four pieces from the Martyrs series—Earth Martyr, Air Martyr, Fire Martyr, and Water Martyr (all 2014).
Regarded as a seminal figure in the development of video art, Viola has been celebrated throughout his 40-year career for combining state-of-the-art technology with universal humanistic themes—birth, death, and the unfolding of consciousness.
These themes continue in Viola’s Inverted Birth, which explores the life cycle as a continuum rather than a linear progression. Viola has remarked, “Birth is not a beginning, death is not an end.”
In the main gallery, Viola’s monumental video and audio installation Inverted Birth is projected onto a 15-foot-high screen anchored to the floor. The work depicts five stages of awakening through a series of violent transformations. The piece begins with a man standing in darkness, coated in black fluid. Gradually, the fluid begins to flow in reverse and rises upward with increasing velocity.
The fluids change from black to red to white, ultimately becoming clear like water. A soft mist covers the man for the final stage of awakening. The essential elements of human life—earth, blood, milk, water and air, and the passage from birth to death—here are inverted when darkness is transformed into light. In Ancestors, on view in Gallery 1, a mother and son make a journey on foot across the desert in the heat of summer. In the course of traversing this inhospitable landscape, a new consciousness unfolds when they become swallowed by a dust storm and emerge finding solace in one another.Continue Reading..