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Contemporary Art – Video Art by Bill Viola

November 16, 2011

There are many forms of contemporary art which have evolved in the past 30/40 years, all of which have influenced our culture and refocused what we call art today. Video art is a prime example of this as T.V and internet have made this much more accessible. Video art depends on moving pictures combining video and audio data. It became significant during the 60s and 70s and is still widely practised.

 Bill ViolaI looked into artists past and present who have practised this art which lead to some very interesting videos, some watchable other not so much. Finally I came across Bill Viola and his video “Acceptance”. Today he is recognised as a leading artist in his work and a vital artist in Video art.

His work is very intimate and shows a naked person being drenched in water. This is a very powerful piece of work, and has so many possible narratives. I feel that with the name “Acceptance” it is to do with religion and being reborn in society. It asks the question of will people accept you for you? This is emphasised by the fact that the person is naked as they are completely at will; they have nothing to hide behind. I think this reflects society today and how we do not always show our true selves as we may not have the confidence to bear all and be accepted for every flaw we have. At the beginning the image is slightly blurred and then become clearer until a naked woman is bared. I think this is very symbolic and reflects what people are genuinely like; before you truly know someone their personality is slightly blurred and not fully understood but then as a relationship grows you begin to gain a greater depth of knowledge of them. Also when someone is at their worst, in this case when the water is poured over them, their true self is brought to light. This is shown as the person becomes clearer, reflecting this idea. Furthermore, the fact that to begin with due the body parts the viewer is inclined to believe it is a woman but as the video progresses it becomes clear that it is in fact a man who has changed gender. This reflects what society sees as right and wrong.  Can society accept you for who you are?

This video was made in 2008 and was accepted by society as contemporary art is not rejected as much as what this would have been in the past. I think that Viola made this to express that society has changed to point where people cannot be themselves and in fact we often have to put a false face on ourselves to get to where we want to be because we are so often afraid that we will be not be accepted. I think this is quite a sad thought, why do we feel the need to be someone else to fit in? Why should people not accept us for ourselves? Have we really acquired so many faults that we are afraid to show who we are?

 I think this is a truly powerful video, that we may not fully appreciate by watching once but after a few times we can see that it is not just a person being drenched in water, but really a person showing who they really are.

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