Saturday, May 03, 2008

Feeling your way in like Helen Keller

The Artswipe vs Bill Viola
Fire and Ice (Splashdance) 2008
Video art
Courtesy Art Gallery of NSW


The Artswipe went to see the Bill Viola meditation at the Art Gallery of New South Wales last week. You know, I was feeling elemental. It was a real fire and ice kind of day.

Just quietly, I have never seen what the Bill Viola hullabaloo is all about. In the video at the AGNSW these figures float in space like microcosmic specks of matter before crash landing (via a really tricky edit) into water. They float. It's all slow motion and affecting. I wept for days after.

Before "experiencing" the phenomenological power of this work one has to make their way into the darkened gallery it inhabits. And it's one of those kinds of heavy duty spaces where light is blocked out, stamped out, eradicated. You're feeling your way in like Helen Keller, trying to not trip over anyone, let alone accidentally fondle random genitalia. So the eyes have not yet adjusted and the speck-like figures orbiting in darkness make the space even darker. I start freaking out thinking about someone else's repressed junior high memories involving back alley ways and car parks. I've always been a shoulder to cry on, which means I have a lot of baggage. Whenever watching video art by international art stars all that dark baggage comes to the surface. All the pain and shit.

So I grab my mobile phone as a light source to guide my passing into Bill Viola's dark space. His dark hole of elemental substance. The Nokia makes a good torch. Someone sitting in darkness watching the video yells out as soon as my Nokia lights up: "Please don't!"

You know what: Get Fucked Anonymous Bill Viola Fan in the Darkness! I was just trying to do the right thing by OHS and not tread on anyone or encounter, as I said, random genitalia.

Moral of the story: The Artswipe is so over international artstarvideoart about darkness and light, floating and fire. Rebirth already - I'm sure your mother would love the comeback.

I already have Earth, Wind and Fire in my record collection.


Postscript: Melbourne artist Kate Smith emailed The Artswipe a reproduction of an artwork she made in 2005 that taps into the same themes dealt with here:

Kate Smith
Can You Feel It, 2005
Acrylic on postcard
Courtesy the artist



9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Some of Viola's imagery could be straight out of a Norman Lindsay Painting, some from The Man From Atlantis.
I wish they would show Now Eleanor's Idea by Robert Ashley.

E.S. Hair

Skanky Jane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Skanky Jane said...

'Rebirth already - I'm sure your mother would love the comeback.'

That cracks me up no end!

SJ xx

Kate Smith said...

Hi Artswipe, I want o email you an image that relates to this. Can I ? Kate Smith

Artswipe said...

yes please send image kate

theartswipe at hotmail dot com

Artswipe said...

Thanks for sending your EXCELLENT and VERY FUNNY image Kate, it's now added as a postscript to this post. How psychically linked are we?!

mikofanclub said...

SCATHING and then some! LUVVIT

Skanky Jane said...

Wow, talkabout in sync! Great image Kate and great blog too! SJ xx

Anonymous said...

Kate's pic is turning me on, it's XXX