Bill Viola: The Moving Portrait at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, through May 7, 2017

“‘Bill Viola: The Moving Portrait’—the National Portrait Gallery’s first exhibition entirely devoted to media art—offers a new interpretation of the work of the pioneering video artist as a career-long experimentation with portraiture. Since the early 1970s, Viola has been recognized for his groundbreaking and masterful use of video technologies, creating poetic works that explore the spiritual and perceptual side of human experience and search for a deeper understanding of the world around us. Although Viola’s work has been the subject of numerous surveys, it has not been considered in terms of its sustained engagement with—indeed, reshaping of—the genre of portraiture. As the works in this exhibition reveal, Viola’s technological investigations rely on the language of the face and body, encouraging self-reflection as well as expressing the universality of our experiences and articulating metaphysical issues about our place in the world. No other artist has pressed us to confront these questions in such elegant, humanistic terms. ‘Bill Viola: The Moving Portrait’ not only sheds light on forty years of artistry but also the ways that portraiture extends beyond likeness. Ultimately, it opens our eyes to the manner in which emerging technologies draw out our perpetual impulses toward self-representation and collective contemplation.” — National Portrait Gallery

Incrementation, 1996. Video/sound installation © Bill Viola. Photo: Mike Bruce, courtesy Anthony d’Offay, London

Nine Attempts to Achieve Immortality, 1996. Video/sound installation © Bill Viola. Photo: Mike Bruce, courtesy Anthony d’Offay, London

Dolorosa, 2000. Video diptych © Bill Viola. Photo: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Catherine’s Room, 2001. Video polyptych.  Photo: Kira Perov © Bill Viola

The Raft, May 2004. Video/sound installation. Photo: Kira Perov © Bill Viola

The Raft, May 2004. Video/sound installation. Photo: Kira Perov © Bill Viola

The Raft, May 2004. Video/sound installation. Photo: Kira Perov © Bill Viola

The Raft, May 2004. Video/sound installation. Photo: Kira Perov © Bill Viola

Three Women, 2008. Video on plasma display. Photo: Kira Perov © Bill Viola

Three Women, 2008. Video on plasma display. Photo: Kira Perov © Bill Viola

Three Women, 2008. Video on plasma display. Photo: Kira Perov © Bill Viola

The Dreamers, 2013. Video/sound installation. Lent by Keith D. Stoltz © Bill Viola. Photo: Peter Mallet, courtesy Blain|Southern, London

“Bill Viola: The Moving Portrait” has been curated by Asma Naeem, curator of prints, drawings and media art at the National Portrait Gallery, in consultation with Viola’s creative partner, Kira Perov, and Bill Viola Studio.

Images courtesy National Portrait Gallery.