About the Exhibition

Bill Viola

Ever thought you heard voices in the back of your mind, or come across uncertain memories deep inside your consciousness? If so, you know what to expect from “Bill Viola: Hatsu-Yume.”
Viola's sound and video installations fill the Mori Art Museum's galleries rather as a raw emotion, or a fresh discovery, might fill the mind. Born in 1951 in New York, Viola has worked in video since the dawn of the medium in the 1970s, and is now one of its leading practitioners. This exhibition, his first large-scale retrospective in Asia, shows a representative selection of his work with 16 works spanning 25 years (particular attention is paid to the 1990s onwards), and will engage both long time fans and first time viewers.
Stepping into the first gallery, visitors are confronted by the roaring sound of water and a massive screen appearing out of the darkness - The Crossing (1996). Right from the start, visitors' eyes, ears, and entire bodies, are enveloped within the different worlds the artist has created. Moving through the exhibition viewers find works that are at times spiritual and calming, and at others mysterious and shocking. Their power lies not only in their technical perfection, but in their addressing of themes fundamental to the human condition: life, birth, death, rebirth, faith, anger, joy. In this particular journey through life we are all confronted with perfect crystallizations of the emotions we recognize and have experienced. More than just ‘video art,’ Viola's work resounds with each viewer differently, awakening the subconscious with memories and emotions.
To coincide with the exhibition there will also be a series of screenings of Viola's early video works at the NTT Intercommunication Center. After the Mori Art Museum, "Bill Viola: Hatsu-Yume" will travel to the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art in Kobe (January 23 – March 21, 2007).

Five Angels for the Millennium, “Departing Angel”
Video/sound installation
Photo: Kira Perov

Five Angels for the Millennium [installation view]
Video/sound installation
Photo: Mike Bruce
Photo courtesy: Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London

Five Angels for the Millennium, “Creation Angel”
Video/sound installation
Photo: Kira Perov

Five Angels for the Millennium, “Ascending Angel”
Video/sound installation
Photo: Kira Perov

Hatsu-Yume (First Dream)
Single-channel Videotape, color, stereo sound
56 minutes
Photo: Kira Perov

Bill Viola's Hatsu-Yume, a view of the world shaped by a dream in Japan

Bill Viola lived in Japan for nearly a year and half in the 1980s where, in addition to studying Zen Buddhism and traditional performing arts such as Noh theater, he gained access to some of the most advanced color video equipment at the time. His experience of Japan had a lasting influence on his artistic development. The exhibition title is taken from Hatsu-Yume (First Dream), a 56-minute video woven around his observations of and reactions to Japanese culture and landscape. Revisiting Viola's thoughts on Japan in today's context, the artist and leading critics will introduce special screenings of Hatsu-Yume during the period of the exhibition.

List of Works
  • Hatsu-Yume (First Dream) | 1981 | Single-channel Videotape, color, stereo sound | 56 mins.
    * At the special "Viola Tuesday" screenings only. Details here.
  • The Stopping Mind | 1991 | Video / sound installation
  • Heaven and Earth | 1992 | Video installation
  • The Greeting | 1995 | Video / sound installation
  • The Veiling | 1995 | Video / sound installation
  • The Crossing | 1996 | Video / sound installation
  • Anima | 2000 | Color video triptych on three LCD flat panels mounted on wall
  • Dolorosa | 2000 | Color video diptych on two freestanding hinged LCD flat panels
  • The Quintet of the Astonished | 2000 | Color video rear projection on screen mounted on wall in dark room
  • Catherine's Room | 2001 | Color video polyptych on five LCD flat panels mounted on wall
  • Five Angels for the Millennium | 2001 | Video / sound installation
  • Four Hands | 2001 | Black-and-white video polyptych on four LCD flat panels mounted on shelf
  • Silent Mountain | 2001 | Color video diptych on two plasma displays mounted side-by-side on wall
  • Surrender | 2001 | Color video diptych on two plasma displays mounted vertically on wall
  • Observance | 2002 | Color High-Definition video on plasma display mounted on wall
  • The Raft | 2004 | Color High-Definition video projection on wall; 5.1ch surround sound

Praise for the Bill Viola exhibition:

When I make something I always think:
“I want to make something that is not just beautiful, but that resonates in the heart.”
Something that is not just technology, but that has a presence, that is real. Something with the power to make you sigh, or gasp, unknowingly.
In the Bill Viola exhibition, I can feel the energy of that real, something.
Yoshioka Tokujin (Designer)
It’s way to shocking to be called “First Dream.”
Homma Takashi (Photographer)
Bill Viola creates emotional responses in a world of art that is often too technical or clever. His use of technology is never openly scientific, instead he appeals to your senses and your intelligence. He makes you think while you “feel”. He is proof that best of contemporary art is visceral to the heart and mind.
John C Jay (Executive Creative Director, Wieden + Kennedy)
I've seen a lot of Bill Viola shows, but this one, where you can see all his work, was astounding. While Viola distances himself from his times, creating what appears to be a conjectural form of work, it really has the power to connect with people living in the real world. In this work, I really feel the power of art.
It is an exhibition that should be seen by a lot of people.
Because it allows you to look, feel a lot, and think.
Goto Shigeo
(Editor, Creative Director, Professor in the ASP ["Art Studies and Cultural Production"] Department at Kyoto University of Art and Design)


MAM SCREEN each month presents a video work related to an exhibition currently on at the Mori Art Museum. The work is shown at a few screens throughout Roppongi Hills, including the 500 inch outdoor screen at the Metro Hat and PDP monitors in West Walk.

To celebrate the Museum's current exhibition of video art, “Bill Viola: Hatsu - Yume (First Dream),” a special selection of clips from six of Viola's works will be screened from October until December 2006. Two works will be shown each week four times between 12:00-13:00 and 19:00-20:00 each day. In addition to the regular screens, the works will also be shown on the Mori Tower office and residence tower elevators.