Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 2002
London, Anthony d'Offay Gallery, Bill Viola - New Work, 2001
Venice, IL Biennale Internazionale dell'Arte, 2001, another example exhibited
Exhibition Catalogue, Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum; London, The National Gallery; Munich, The Pinakothek; Madrid, Fundación La Caixa; Canberra, National Gallery of Australia, Bill Viola: The Passions, 2003-05, pp. 45, 135-9, 209, and 273, illustrations of another example in colour
Exhibition Catalogue, Tokyo, Mori Art Museum; Hyogo, Prefectural Museum of Art, Bill Viola, Hatsu-Yume, First Dream, 2006-07, pp. 139-41, illustrations of another example in colour
Bill Viola's Surrender is one of the most important works by the artist, represented by others of the edition being housed in the collection of the National Galleries of Scotland and another being exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2001, and is highly emblematic of his most celebrated series The Passions. The present diptych is composed of two plasma monitors mounted vertically with the ends touching. A man and a woman appear separately on each monitor and mirror themselves in their choreographed movements. The two actors, one of whom is necessarily upside down, symbolically bend down into the water three times with pained facial expressions. After their first bend, the water surface begins to undulate and the actors' images are thereafter distorted. It is revealed to the viewer that what he has been looking at are the actors' reflections on the water's surface and not their actual bodies. While the water mirrors the actors' figures, the undulating and disturbing waves reveal their inner feelings. Rich with dramatic intensity, this mediated image is one of Viola's most powerful representations of emotion. When Viola conceived Surrender and long before he filmed it, the artist named it "Crying- Returning to the Source of Tears" suggesting the symbolic meaning associated to the water.
Surrender intensely and beautifully conveys the power and complexity of feelings and the challenges of their depiction. Viola applied in Surrender a new technique he had pioneered in an earlier video The Greeting, exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1995. The present video is a 45-second shot on a 35 mm film at very high speed, which Viola significantly slowed down when he transferred it without cuts or editing to digital video. By using this technique every instance of facial expression can be intensely observed when the video is played on a flat screen. Surrender finds its genesis in 1998 when Viola was a guest scholar at the Getty Research Institute, where the artist took part in a year of studies devoted to "The Representation of the Passions" and was greatly inspired by Medieval and Renaissance Masters, such as Mantegna and Pontormo. Vividly colourful and silent, the video Surrender is similar to the Master paintings it was inspired by, although crucially it is never static and always in motion.
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