The work is comprised of a triptych of vertical colour plasma screens – two smaller screens flanking a larger central screen. The work is also supported by a cast carbon steel stand designed by Norman Foster and his team.
Hail Mary: artist Bill Viola unveils his new video installation for St Paul’s Cathedral, London
St Paul’s Cathedral in London welcomes its second commission from American video artist Bill Viola. Pictured: Viola and his partner Kira Perov at their studio in Signal Hill, California, with his latest work, Mary, 2016 – a colour, high-definition video triptych on vertically mounted plasma displays. Photography: Jesse Chehak
Whether Viola is actually also a great artist I’ve never been entirely convinced. In the new work, the image of the mother – who we take for Mary – gives way to scenes in an American wilderness, with a lone figure wandering among towering cliffs and rugged pines.
This is the second of two permanent video installations at St Paul’s made by Bill Viola and his wife Kira Perov. Like Martyrs, its companion piece across the altar, it’s Christianity-specific yet general enough to appeal to St Paul’s multi-faith visitors. Mary represents Christ’s mother but also what Viola sees as eternally feminine characteristics, including “procreation, inner strength, love and compassion”.
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Una nuova video-installazione di Bill Viola nella Cattedrale di St Paul a Londra. Una Pietà contemporanea che affiancherà i Martyr
Like Christianity, Viola is all about the biggies: life, death and suffering. He comes across here as a pleasant man, good-natured and modest for an art-world superstar, though with an unmistakable core of pure, blinkers-on drive. Towards the end, he opens up about a near-death experience at the age of six, and touches briefly on his early career. But lots of questions are left hanging. (The obvious: what are his own spiritual beliefs?)
Bill Viola: Mary
Mary, the second permanent large-scale video installation for St Paul’s Cathedral created by the internationally acclaimed artist Bill Viola, opens to the public on 9 September 2016 to coincide with the Feast of Mary.
Pictures of… Bill Viola’s Mary at St Paul’s Cathedral
Mary has been conceived as a companion piece to Martyrs (Earth, Air, Fire, Water), which was unveiled at the same venue back in 2014. Both works explore Eastern and Western art and spiritual traditions, addressing concepts of life, birth and death.