Svenska kyrkan

Works by Bill Viola for Uppsala Cathedral


Five works by American video artist Bill Viola will be exhibited in Uppsala Cathedral in the autumn. The Cathedral Parish intends to acquire one of the works as part of Reformation Year 2017.

“Tempest”, from 2005 is one of the video works by Bill Viola that will be exhibited in Uppsala Cathedral in the autumn.

“We are very pleased that Bill Viola wants to collaborate with us. It is an art event that will attract attention not just in Sweden but far beyond our borders,” says Kristin Windolf-Granberg, Assistant Priest in the Uppsala Cathedral Parish and project manager for the event.

Bill Viola, born in 1951 in New York, is counted as a leading contemporary video artist, with works held in major art galleries and museums around the world. He is also represented in several churches and cathedrals. His work is usually described as touching on the fundamental experiences of human existence, such as birth, death and deliverance.

The background to the Cathedral Parish’s plan to acquire a work by Bill Viola is the current Reformation Year, during which the Church of Sweden is celebrating 500 years since the Reformation in various ways.

“At each Reformation celebration in Sweden, something special in the area of culture has occurred. One hundred years ago, Hugo Alfvén wrote his cantata for the Reformation celebrations. This time, we want to manifest the importance of the Reformation in a clear, visual and lasting way,” says Kristin Windolf-Granberg.

Since the summer, two permanent works by Bill Viola have been installed in St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Mark Oakley is responsible for the artworks in St Paul’s, and he is currently in Uppsala participating in the Theology Festival, which will end on Sunday.

“Bill Viola was asked to create a video artwork that could enrich the spiritual life of visitors attending a church service, but also our many visitors with all kinds of religious affiliations, or those who do not have any at all,” says Mark Oakley.

“On the whole, the works have been very well received,” he continues.

“The responses we get are that the works are challenging, inspire hope, are exploratory and spiritual. Some have questioned whether video is the right form of expression in a church, while others feel that works that demand the visitor’s attention are absolutely right for a church, rather than being passed by with indifference, which unfortunately is the case with many works of art in churches.”

Bill Viola’s works will be exhibited in Uppsala Cathedral between 1 September and 5 November, and the exhibition will be opened by Archbishop Antje Jackelén. The project will be funded by the Huselius Fund. The works are being exhibited in collaboration with the Uppsala Art Museum, which will also exhibit a work by Bill Viola.

Contact: Kristin Windolf-Granberg, Assistant Priest, Uppsala Cathedral +46(0)733-212100




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