Single-channel 6: Collected

Bill Viola / Ascension

Bill Viola Ascension

May 27 – August 7, 2016
Pamela Bass-Bookey and Harry Bookey Gallery / Richard Meier Building

Single-channel is a program dedicated to the exhibition and interpretation of important single-channel video by contemporary artists. Each year-long series is dedicated to a specific theme explored in unexpected and surprising ways by artists from around the world. For 2016, we are celebrating the Art Center's growing collection of video works by displaying unseen or long off-view art accessioned by the museum in recent years.

Bill Viola is a pioneer in the art of video installation. Working with technology that utilizes sight and sound, he creates sculptures of experience. In Ascension, viewers are engulfed in a dark ocean-like atmosphere and presented with a visual narrative of the moments before, during, and after the jarring, visceral occurrence of a man plunging into water. The work is infused with aspects of both the natural and spiritual worlds, particularly Christianity. The sinking, solitary figure, with his straight torso and outstretched arms, alludes to the crucifixion of Christ, while the rising figure metaphorically describes his ascent into heaven. The transformation of the body into a multitude of tiny rising bubbles reflects the sublime nature of this work.

Learn more about the Art Center's single-channel program.

Bill Viola (American, born 1951)
Ascension, 2000
Color video projection on wall in dark room; stereo sound
Running Time: 10 minutes
Purchased with funds from the Coffin Fine Arts Trust; Nathan Emory Coffin Collection of the Des Moines Art Center, 2001.1

Related Content

entirely unexpected