Bill Viola's video art comes to Palermo: water as a symbol of union between the earthly and otherworldly

The Royal Palace of Palermo welcomes Bill Viola's exhibition "Purification." Five video art works will transform the Duca di Montalto Rooms place of introspection.

After nearly a year of work, P u r i f i c a t i o n [From Bill Viola to the Palatine Chapel] opens to the public from July 10, 2021, to Feb. 28, 2022, at the Royal Palace in Palermo: the event is proposed as an experience in which the visitor becomes a co-protagonist, relating to the works that carry content of universal value.

Bill Viola, master of the figurative universe and video art, brings his works to Palermo. Since 2018, the Frederick II Foundation has been delving into the cultural contents of the Royal Palace and the Palatine Chapel, and on this occasion it also reveals to the public the great symbolic-spiritual significance of these places.

The Duca di Montalto Rooms of the Royal Palace, which will host the exhibition, will become a place of introspection. A place where darkness is broken by blades of light that merge, in a single “luogononluogo,” Viola’s works with a selection of precious works and artifacts, rich in history and spirituality, carefully chosen by the Fondazione Federico II, which symbolically represent water as a cosmic element. Bill Viola will thus dialogue with history. The artist leads the visitor to that “luogononluogo” where East and West, death and life, laity and believers coexist; a “luogononluogo” to be experienced, whose casket, the Palatine Chapel, is a place of spirituality par excellence. Water becomes correlation between man and the sacred, between the earthly and the otherworldly dimensions, a symbol through which man fills the innate desire to aspire to understand creation, birth and death. Central themes of the five works in the exhibition are martyrdom and ascension: Tristan’s Ascension and Air Martyr, Earth Martyr, Fire Mart yr and Water Martyr.

The introspective and expressive research on the human being takes off from the basic constituent elements of the world, the strongest of which is water. The power of the contemporary language of Bill Viola’s works enhances and enlivens the symbolism of ancient artifacts that become symbols of the water element. The four video installations of the Martyrs series (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) entrust the representation of suffering and the struggle against it to four characters, four “martyrs,” each of whom faces a different “test” represented by one of the four cosmic elements. Tristan’s Ascension, on the other hand, shows a man immersed in the flow of a waterfall, but it is a reverse flow, the water not falling downward but rising upward. It is a surreal portrait of transcendence, showing the ascension of the soul after death.

P u r i f i c a t i o n is organized by Fondazione Federico II and Bill Viola Studio, curated by Kira Perov and Patrizia Monterosso, in collaboration with the Sicilian Regional Assembly, the Sicilian regional museum dimension, the Regional Department of Cultural Heritage and Sicilian Identity, the FEC (Fondo Edifici di Culto), numerous Ecclesiastical Institutions and the Eparchy.

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Hours: Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday and holidays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Image: Bill Viola, Air Martyr, Earth Martyr, Fire Martyr, Water Martyr. Ph.Credit Frederick II Foundation

Bill Viola's video art comes to Palermo: water as a symbol of union between the earthly and otherworldly
Bill Viola's video art comes to Palermo: water as a symbol of union between the earthly and otherworldly

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