Copenhagen Contemporary (CC) are going to present American artist Bill Viola’s latest large scale work Inverted Birth (2014) for the first time in Denmark. Bill Viola is recognised as a pioneer in the medium of video art, known for his iconic, large-scale, slow-motion, immersive video works produced over a 40-year career. Inverted Birth is a prime example of how Viola’s technically innovative installations have transcended the video genre. Towering to a monumental height of 5 metres, Inverted Birth explores the power of human emotions and the very nature of our existence; life, death, birth and rebirth.
“Birth is not a beginning, death is not an end,”
as Viola has remarked, quoting from Chuang Tzu (370–287 BC).
Bill Viola, Inverted Birth (detail), 2014. Video/sound installation, 8:22 minutes. Projected image size: 500 h x 281 w cm. Performer: Norman Scott. Photo: Kira Perov. Courtesy Bill Viola Studio. Private collection.
Bill Viola’s installations depict human beings under extreme pressure, ascending and descending, in water and fire, in motion and at rest. His images are strikingly beautiful, composed by the hand of a master in control of a wide range of tools and a rich palette, creating a direct emotional appeal to the heart of the viewer.
Viola writes about his latest work:
“Inverted Birth depicts five stages of awakening through a series of violent transformations. A man stands in the darkness, drenched in black fluid, the sound of drips punctuating the hollow sound of an empty space. Gradually the fluid begins to rise and as the movement escalates, the flow upward becomes a roaring deluge. The dark despair of black turns to fear as the liquid changes to red but the man remains strong. With the flow of white liquid comes relief and nurturing, followed by the purification of cleansing water. Finally, a soft mist brings acceptance, awakening, and birth. The fluids represent the essence of human life: earth, blood, milk, water, and air, and the life cycle from birth to death, here inverted into a transformation from darkness to light.”
CC’s Project Director, Jens Erik Sørensen, who has a long professional friendship with Bill Viola, comments:
“For many years I have been a big admirer of Bill Viola’s amazing and unique video art. It is therefore a great honour to be able to present Inverted Birth here at CC, right in the centre of the Danish capital. For Denmark and Danish art museums it was an important step forward, when ARoS Museum in collaboration with the New Carlsberg Foundation, back in 2001, acquired Bill Viola’s five screen installation, Five Angels for the Millennium. It was Bill’s first representation in Denmark, and with Inverted Birth we are now able to present one of his latest large-scale video works.”
COPENHAGEN CONTEMPORARY BILL VIOLA Inverted Birth 29 AUGUST – 26 NOVEMBER 2017 cphco.org/en/