Εθνικό Μουσείο Σύγχρονης Τέχνης
The Raft

Bill Viola

The Raft

2004

The work is displayed as part of the permanent exhibition

Audiovisual Media

Βιντεο-ηχητική εγκατάσταση

Digital colour high definition videoprojection with surround sound 5.1, Duration 10’30’’
Edition 1/3
Loan from the Hellenic Culture Organization S.A.(HCO) to EMST within the framework of the Cultural Olympiad, 2004
Inv. No. 538/04

Bill Viola, a video art pioneer, creates high tech video installations which have been influenced by various religions and mystical movements, and makes iconographic allusions to renowned works of art. Through these installations, the artist engages with fundamental human experiences such as birth and death. In his work titled The Raft, 2004, a group of 19 people of different ages, races, and genders are standing side by side on what appears to be a railway platform. Each of them a stranger to the rest of the group, they maintain a mental distance from one another, despite sharing physical proximity. All of a sudden, they get struck by a jet of water squirted from a high-pressure hose. Some are immediately knocked over while others struggle to resist the water’s powerful thrust by resorting to each other for support. Eventually, the water stops, and the group of people try to recover from the shock and regain their composure. The video has been shot with a high-speed camera, resulting in an extreme slow motion unfolding of the narration, an effect which intensifies the existing drama, creates a nearly dream-like atmosphere, and allows the audience to fully immerse themselves in the projected images. With clear references to the history of art, ranging from the Greek friezes to Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa, Viola’s work is “a metaphor for today’s world” instantiating the aesthetic transcription of a moment of disaster and its aftermath, as experienced by a diverse group of people. By chronicling the collective experience of a crisis, Viola analyzes the complexity of the human condition: from beginning to end, his work expresses a large variety of emotions —boredom, indifference, curiosity, dis- approval, surprise, fear, pain, the instinct of survival, and, last but not least, solidarity. Oscillating between threat and hope, faced with unexpected disaster, people connect or should connect in order to survive.
Anna Mykoniati, text from the catalogue of the permanent exhibition ENTER EMSΤ. Collection & History, A short guide, 2020

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