6ABC Loves The Arts

The life and death relationship through art

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Arts has a new masterpiece in its collection created by one of the world's most renowned artists still working today.

It's Bill Viola's Ocean Without a Shore and it's a video installation that explores the relationship between life and death&.the physical world and the spiritual.

Ocean Without a Shore shows a sequence of 24 actors as they emerge from a world of gray darkness and into bright color and light&.walking through an invisible wall of water.

The actors stand before the cameras pondering feelings of love, loss and sorrow then pass back through the veil of water into the darkness.

"I think the first time you see it there is a sense in which you can almost feel shivers going down your spine as they go through this veil of water," said Julien Robson, Curator of Contemporary Art, PAFA.

A pioneer of video and installation work, Viola produced the piece using 2 cameras, one a grainy 1970s black and white surveillance camera and the other the most high tech, high definition camera he could find.

Robson says, "It fits in with a lot of ideas in Bill Viola's work, which are to do with the kind of transience of life itself but also the existence of ourselves in other, other spheres."

The video was commissioned by a Venice church for the city's biennial celebration in 2007. Just three copies exist and are now on display in museums in Australia, South Korea and at PAFA. This is the first time it's been show in the US.

"I think like a great painting, it actually changes every time you go and see it," added Robson.

Ocean without a shore is on display indefinitely in PAFA's Morris Gallery. Go to PAFA for hours and ticketing info.

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