Bill Viola's attention-commanding video installations, marking the video pioneer's first U.S. museum survey since 2003, deliver a poignant commentary on how art can uplift the spirit. "This exhibition brings together for the first time in the U.S. many of Bill Viola's major works generally produced after his 1997 Whitney Museum retrospective," says Bonnie Clearwater, the museum's chief curator and director. "Many of these are among his most powerful works to date. These are emotional and spiritual works that speak to the human condition. They are clear proof of the power of art to make us empathize with the suffering, pain, joy, and sense of peace of others and help us cope with our own feelings of isolation and mortality... As a pioneer of video art, Viola has blazed the trail for many of the younger artists MOCA has shown." Viola's sensory-engulfing opuses typically delve into the concepts of birth and death, with a nod to both Eastern and Western art, as well as mystical, spiritual traditions. MOCA's exhibit was inspired by the 15th-century Florentine cleric Cristoforo Buondelmonti's tome The Book of the Islands of Archipelago, recording the six lonely years he spent wandering the Aegean. Viola departs from that compass point to explore universal notions of being and nothingness, using the tale as an allegory of our lives wandering a transforming global landscape.
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