Bill Viola: Reflections

Bill Viola

USA 1977-1979, 1991. 61 Min.
Color. DCP.

Bill Viola's ambition to translate dreams, experiences and the subconscious into pictorial and aural universes forms the backbone of his work. His associative narratives, which have their starting point in existential questions, revolve around the dualities of birth and death, reality and virtuality. For his work, Viola draws from both Christianity and Zen Buddhism, which he himself practised during a stay in Japan. Viola weaves his deep spirituality together with autobiographical elements – such as his own near-death experience by drowning – into multilayered works.


As a complement to Gerald Fox's compassionate documentary Bill Viola – The Road to St. Paul's, Bildrausch presents the short film programme Reflections, giving you the opportunity to dive directly into two works of this seminal video pioneer. In The Passing (1991), Viola contrasts and interweaves images of death and birth with dream sequences and memories. The calm breaths of a sleeping man, Viola himself, and the heavy ones of his dying mother add a sense of rhythm to the sequences. Viola displays life as a transition from birth to death, as a continuation of generations. The themes of death and rebirth are also present in The Reflecting Pool (1977/78). Already in this early work, the element of water takes on several layers of symbolism: as a metaphor for the beginning and the end, or as a mirror that exposes reality as an illusion. (mp)


The Passing

USA 1991. 54 Min.

Color. E.
Director, screenplay: Bill Viola


The Reflecting Pool

USA 1977—1979. 7 Min.

Color. Without dialogue.

Director, screenplay: Bill Viola


DirectorBill Viola
ScreenplayBill Viola