Viola, Christian Nold, Yves
Teresa Margolles, Valerio Magrelli, William Kentridge
Katharina Grosse, Andrea Ferrara, Elisa Biagini
Maurice Benayoun, Antonella Anedda
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|Accordingly to the neuro scientific principle, the so-called ”mirror mechanism”, a similar emotional reaction gets triggered in a person’s brain in both cases, when he experiences something in first person or if he sees somebody else experiencing it. The same emotional transfer happens with art that in turn represents human emotions, such as the work of Bill Viola. Observance is part of a series of video works entitled The Passions. As in other previous works, Viola presents a choreography of contemporary characters performing scenes from the classic Christian iconography. The figures are extrapolated from religious symbology and re-contextualized in a timeless and universally poetic dimension as a metaphor of the essence of the human condition. Observance draws inspiration from Albrecht Dürer’s Die vier Apostel (1526), an altarpiece depicting the grief of the four apostles over the death of Christ. The theme or virtual object of Viola’s video is again the physical expression of grief. The characters enter and exit the performance space with their eyes fixed on a set point that remains hidden, placed out of sight, in the spectator’s space by the artist. Some of the characters occasionally look towards the spectator, as though in search of understanding, while others remains inwardly focused. As in previous works, Viola shows the entire action in ”slow motion”, prompting the spectator to enter gradually into the details of the characters’ gestures and mimetic expression. In neuroscientific terms, Viola’s work is a perfect example of the arousal of empathy through visual impact and the triggering of mirror neurons (Rizzolatti), and hence an experience at one remove from the spectator, like an involuntary act of ”mimesis”.