Bill Viola Takes Over St Paul’s Cathedral

Bill Viola Courtesy the artist

Video art pioneer Bill Viola will unveil his permanent video installation Martyrs at St Paul’s Cathedral in London on May 21, 2014.  The monumental piece will be positioned behind the High Altar in the south quire aisle, next to the American Memorial Chapel dedicated to American soldiers who served in the Second World War.

It is the first moving image project of this scale to take place in a British church or cathedral. Ten years in the making, Martyrs will be joined in 2015 by another video piece entitled Mary.

“The two themes of Martyrs and Mary symbolize some of the profound mysteries of human existence,” commented Viola. “One is concerned with birth and the other death; one with comfort and creation, the other with suffering and sacrifice. If I am successful, the final pieces will function both as aesthetic objects of contemporary art and as practical objects of traditional contemplation and devotion.”

Both pieces have been gifted to Tate Modern, who will be displaying Viola’s Tiny Death (1993) to coincide with the unveiling. The donated artworks will be on long-term loan to St Paul’s Cathedral.


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