documentary on Bill Viola’s work for St Paul’s

I watched an interesting documentary on Bill Viola’s work for St Paul’s cathedral called ‘Bill Viola: The Road to St Paul’s.’ It is always fascinating to see some of the processes of the creation of major art pieces. I enjoyed a documentary on the work of Frank Stella sometime early this year as well. I love Bill Viola’s imagery. I find it both beautiful and corny. Corny in the sense of the style of dress used for example which can seem like an Americanised view of spirituality. It is only a surface issue yet the works transcend the surfaces. Maybe that is what I like about it. Both the spiritual and material world seems out of reach. Both a cult that would be found in some sparse countryside with a deranged guru looking for both the spiritual and the material. Or maybe demanding pleasures of the flesh for a promised transcendence. The reason I feel like this is once I was involved in a cult that brought people with money and means into a beautiful space that promised transcendence from the mundane world. The way people dressed in the cult reminds me of Bill Viola’s work. Bill Viola always seem in touch with the new age and also the traditions of early Christianity. He goes beyond surface issues and makes narratives that are spiritual. I suppose my reading of his work is somewhat biased yet I love his work so much. I still remember meeting priests and rectors and being in awe of them even though with some I later found out were secretly involved in sexual deviancy.

I suppose I woke up when I realised the truth of people trying to transcend their own bodies and yet trapping themselves in pleasure and the pain of living in secrecy and what religion calls sin. Bill Viola’s work can make you cry and normally people will cry when seeing some of his work. The surface issues I speak of are not really that important yet open the work to what audiences will recognise as a spiritual type and this evokes a simplicity that is cultish yet refined. What we understand as spirituality in these times owes a lot to new age concepts borrowing from Buddism and Christianity. Maybe that is an opening for the cult follower or new age type to look at the roots of Christianity and see the body ascending or descending.    

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