The Moving Portrait
By Olivia Kavadias
Art is changing. During the renaissance, most art was done on canvases and boards, and it is traditional to create art this way. In more recent years, technology has given people the chance to put their art into a film or digital medium. This has expanded creativity vastly, making way for newer, more contemporary and innovative art. Jena Ialongo, an advanced artist and student at Glenelg, believes digital and film art “allow for more creativity because you can do so many more things that traditional art can not.” At The National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C., an exhibit showcases these kinds of creations and is something worth seeing, expressing emotions and ideas that you can not reach with traditional art.
Bill Viola: The Moving Portrait features work from a span of over 40 years, all on video panels. Many describe his work as innovative, and has been in the spotlight for years since it is so different from many other artists like Vik Muniz and Richard Serra. Viola’s work features the metaphysical issues about our place in the world and encourages self-reflection, especially in works like Surrender which shows two people on opposite poles, looking and diving into their reflections into the water they are waist deep in.
Another popular piece in the exhibit is The Raft, which was one of the more recent works, done in 2004. It tells the story of many people from different ethnic backgrounds, all standing in one big conglomeration. At around the halfway mark (5 minutes), a torrent of water rushes out for both sides of the panel. For the rest of the portrait, the people tumble and stumble, the water’s strength pushing everyone in different directions.
The Dreamers is one of the more relaxing and undisturbed works in the exhibit. It is a collection of seven panels featuring seven people of all different ages sitting still in water, the sound of the still stream echoing in the room. The concept of age and stillness is also expressed in another work in the exhibit, Four Hands, which shows four panels of hands, from left to right, young to old, the younger hands moving apart from each other, and the older hands coming together.
Bill Viola’s work has various underlying meanings, and is very modern, innovative, and captivating. The Moving Portrait is an exhibit worth seeing at The National Portrait Gallery this Spring. One bystander in the exhibit calls it, “engaging with sound and movement, drawing the viewer into an experience that goes deeper than a two-dimensional portrait… bringing us closer to the human spirit.”
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