Bill Viola. The Quintet of the Astonished
© Bill Viola Studio, The Quintet of the Astonished, 2000
Photo: Kira Perov
The Quintet of the Astonished, 2000November 24 and November 27, 2019
St. Petersburg, 65 Fontanka Embankment
The Plywood Theatre: Contemporary Art Programme at the BDT (Bolshoi Drama Theatre) is a project that completes the celebration of the Bolshoi Drama Theatre's 100th anniversary. The project is held in collaboration with the St Petersburg PRO ARTE Foundation, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
Contemporary Art Programme at the BDT Plywood Theatre will open in November with works by the world famous video artist Bill Viola, known as The Rembrandt of Video Art. Audiences will see his works from the Plywood Theatre’s lodge: 'living pictures' will be projected on a large screen of the BDT Main Stage for the first time. On November 24 (3 PM and 6 PM) and November 27 (9:30 PM), the theatre will screen The Quintet of the Astonished. Before each screening St Petersburg art historian Gleb Ershov will offer a guided tour around the Plywood Theatre.
THE QUINTET OF THE ASTONISHED
Performers: John Malpede, Weba Garretson, Tom Fitzpatrick, John Fleck, Dan Gerrity
Courtesy of the Bill Viola Studio
A group of five people (two women and three men) are seen standing close together as they undergo a wave of intense emotion that threatens to overwhelm them. As the sequence begins, we see them in neutral expression, and continue to observe as the emotion, individualized to each person, comes on for the whole group and builds to an extreme level. After some minutes it finally subsides, leaving each person drained and exhausted.
The five individuals experience the rising emotional energy independently, with little acknowledgement or direct interaction with their companions, other than occasional physical contact due to their close proximity. The group is presented against a neutral background with no suggestion of the outside world. They do not move from their original positions and no one leaves the frame. The extreme slow motion makes visible the smallest of details and subtle nuances of expression, and creates a subjective, psychological space where time is suspended for both performers and viewers alike.
Bill Viola was born in New York in 1951 and graduated from Syracuse University in 1973. A seminal figure in the field of video art, he has been creating installations, films, sound environments, flat panel video pieces and works for concerts, opera and sacred spaces for over four decades. Viola represented the US at the Venice Biennale in 1995. Other key solo exhibitions include: Bill Viola: A 25-Year Survey, The Whitney Museum of American Art (1997); The Passions, J. Paul Getty Museum (2003); Bill Viola – Visions, ARoS, Aarhus (2005); Hatsu-Yume (First Dream), Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2006); Bill Viola, visioni interiori, Palazzo delle Esposizioni (2008); Bill Viola, Grand Palais, Paris (2014); Bill Viola. Electronic Renaissance, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence; Bill Viola. Installations, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg; Bill Viola. Retrospective, Guggenheim Bilbao; and Bill Viola: Selected Work 1977-2014, Redtory Museum of Contemporary Art, Guangzhou, China (all 2017) ); Bill Viola: Visions of Time, SESC (Social Service of Commerce), São Paulo, Brazil (2018); Bill Viola / Michelangelo: Life, Death, Rebirth at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2019); and Bill Viola: Mirrors of the Unseen, La Pedrera, Barcelona, Spain (2019).
In 2004, Viola created a four-hour long video for Peter Sellars’ production of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde that has had many performances in the US, Canada, Europe and Japan. Viola has received numerous awards including XXI Catalonia International Prize (2009), the Praemium Imperiale from the Japan Art Association (2011), and was elected as an Honorary member to the Royal Academy, London in 2017.
Kira Perov is Executive Director of Bill Viola Studio. She has worked closely with Bill Viola since 1979, managing, creatively guiding and assisting with the production of his video works and installations. She edits all Bill Viola publications and organizes and coordinates exhibitions of the work worldwide.
The Plywood Theatre is a conceptual architectural object created for the BDT’s 100th anniversary (by artist Alexander Shishkin-Hokusai, theatre director Andrei Moguchiy, and architect Andrei Voronov). The plywood construction invades the 19th century classical theatre and transfers the viewer back to 1919. The authors dedicate the architectural installation to Alexander Blok, BDT’s first artistic director, and outstanding artists who worked in the theater in the 1920s and 30s.
The Plywood Theatre is an installation set in BDT’s main building, which functions as a real theatre and has its own stage as well as an auditorium for 30 seats.
In October 2019, the BDT Plywood Theatre received the ARCHIWOOD Award in the Art Object nomination as the best wooden architectural structure.
Activity Type : Visual Arts