The Messenger | Bill Viola | Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa
Past exhibition

Bill Viola: Temporality and Transcendence.

06.24.2004 - 01.30.2005

From June 2004 to January 2005, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao presents some of the most recent work by leading contemporary artist Bill Viola. A pioneer in the use of video since the 1970s, Viola has explored the moving image with mono-channel creations, installations and other works that are closely linked with art history, spirituality and other concept- and perception-related themes. Bill Viola: temporality and transcendence is a theme-based exploration of the work of this artist that includes the most significant of his recent installations: Going Forth By Day (2002) and Five Angels For The Millennium (2001).

Commissioned by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin. Going Forth By Day explores themes of human existence: individuality, society, death, and rebirth. The work is experienced architecturally, with all five image-sequences playing simultaneously in one large gallery. To enter the space, visitors literally step into the light of the first image. Once inside, they stand at the center of an image-sound world with projections on every wall. The five image sequences are each approximately thirty-five minutes in length and play simultaneously on continuous loops. Sound from each panel mixes freely with the space, creating an overall acoustic ambience. The resulting installation reflects Viola's creation of a fully realized image world, an associative narrative conveyed through the panels, each functioning as a narrative element within an epic whole.

Five Angels For The Millennium, which belongs to the ARos Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark, is another five-screen installation in which Viola offers a rather more ambiguous, though none the less impressive reflection on a number of inter-related issues. Five Angels uses an iconography of figures that emerge from and are submerged in water to create a vivid, evocative sensorial experience.

Two related works from the Guggenheim's collection, The Messenger and The Crossing, thematically complement this stunning new work, offering a unique opportunity to experience Viola's artwork and reflect on his recurring themes of temporality and transcendence.


Bill Viola
The Messenger, 1996
762 x 914.4 x 975.4 cm
Edition 2/3
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Gift, The Bohen Foundation
© Bill Viola