I was almost instantly mesmerised on seeing the first piece of work in Bill Viola’s exhibition; Walking on the Edge. In this beautifully shot film two men, father and son, gradually approach the viewer, and each other, from through the heat haze of a vast desert scene. Shown in slow motion they move almost imperceptibly closer before eventually meeting fleetingly and continuing on their separate journeys, with the briefest of glances in each-others direction.
The title piece of the exhibition, Chapel of Frustrated Actions and Futile Gestures, is a grid of nine screens each showing repetitive, futile actions. One man digs a hole and promptly refills it; another drags a cart to the top of a hill only to let it roll back down the the bottom again. A third scene depicts two men in a boat, one bailing it out whilst the other slowly undertakes the opposite action, scooping water from the lake to replace what has been removed. Each of the nine actions is repeated seemingly without end, prompting the viewer to consider possibly some of the elements of futility within their own existence.
The final work of the exhibition; the dreamers, was particularly haunting. Seven people are depicted, almost at life-size, sleeping (or are they on the verge of drowning?) under water, at the bottom of a stream, the ripples slowly distorting their images. The room is darkened and filled with the gentle sound of running water, drawing the viewer in to become a part of the work themselves.
Overall, I found this show was a delight. Exquisite HD films with very little action, yet each telling engaging stories and holding the viewers’ attention for an extended period.