COPENHAGEN CONTEMPORARY PRESENTS
Inverted Birth (2014)
Copenhagen Contemporary (CC) is pleased to present American artist Bill Viola’s latest large
scale work Inverted Birth (2014) for the first time in Denmark. Bill Viola is recognised as a pioneer
in the medium of video art, known for his iconic, large-scale, slow-motion immersive video works
produced over a 40-year career. Inverted Birth is a prime example of how Viola’s technically
innovative installations have transcended the video genre. Towering to a monumental height of 5
meters, Inverted Birth explores the power of human emotions and the very nature of our
existence; life, death, birth and rebirth. “Birth is not a beginning, death is not an end,” as Viola has
remarked, quoting from Chuang Tzu (370–287 BC).
Bill Viola’s installations depict human beings under extreme pressure, ascending and descending,
in water and fire, in motion and at rest. His images are strikingly beautiful, composed by the hand
of a master in control of a wide range of tools and a rich palette, creating a direct emotional
appeal to the heart of the viewer.
Viola writes about his latest work:” …Inverted Birth depicts five stages of awakening through a
series of violent transformations. A man stands in the darkness, drenched in black fluid, the sound
of drips punctuating the hollow sound of an empty space. Gradually the fluid begins to rise and as
the movement escalates, the flow upward becomes a roaring deluge. The dark despair of black
turns to fear as the liquid changes to red but the man remains strong. With the flow of white
liquid comes relief and nurturing, followed by the purification of cleansing water. Finally, a soft
mist brings acceptance, awakening, and birth. The fluids represent the essence of human life:
earth, blood, milk, water, and air, and the life cycle from birth to death, here inverted into a
transformation from darkness to light.”
CC’s Project Director Jens Erik Sørensen, who has a long professional friendship with Bill Viola,
“For many years I have been a big admirer of Bill Viola’s amazing and unique video art. It is
therefore a great honour to be able to present Inverted Birth here at CC, right in the centre of the
Danish capital. For Denmark and Danish art museums it was an important step forward, when
ARoS Museum in collaboration with the New Carlsberg Foundation, back in 2001, acquired Bill
Viola’s five screen installation: Five Angels for the Millennium (2001). It was Bill Viola’s first
representation in Denmark, and with Inverted Birth we are now able to present one of his latest
big scale video works.”
ABOUT BILL VIOLA
Bill Viola was born in New York in 1951 and graduated from Syracuse University in 1973. A seminal
figure in the field of video art, he has been creating installations, films, sound environments, flat
panel video pieces and works for concerts, opera and sacred spaces for over four decades. Viola
represented the US at the Venice Biennale in 1995. Other key solo exhibitions include: Bill Viola.
Electronic Renaissance, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence; Bill Viola. Installations, Deichtorhallen,
Hamburg; Bill Viola. Retrospective, Guggenheim Bilbao (all 2017); Bill Viola, Grand Palais, Paris
(2014); Bill Viola, visioni interior, Palazzo delle Esposizioni (2008); Hatsu-Yume (First Dream),
Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2006); Bill Viola – Visions, ARoS, Aarhus (2005); The Passions, J.Paul
Getty Museum (2003) and Bill Viola: A 25-Year Survey, The Whitney Museum of American Art
In 2004, Viola created a four-hour long video for Peter Sellars’ production of Wagner’s Tristan
und Isolde that has had many performances in the US, Canada, Europe and Japan. Viola has
received numerous awards including XXI Catalonia International Prize (2009), the Praemium
Imperiale from the Japan Art Association (2011), and was elected as an Honorary member to the
Royal Academy, London in 2017.
ABOUT KIRA PEROV
Kira Perov is Executive Director of Bill Viola Studio. She has worked closely with Bill Viola since
1979, managing, creatively guiding and assisting with the production of his video works and
installations. She edits all Bill Viola publications and organizes and coordinates exhibitions of the
work worldwide. Kira Perov earned her BA (Honors) in languages and literature from Melbourne
University, Australia in 1973.
The exhibition will be open to members of the press Monday 28 August from 11.30-13.00.
The press viewing will be followed by lunch in La Halle at Copenhagen Contemporary.
The artist will not be present, however his partner and collaborator Kira Perov (Bill Viola Studio
director) will attend.
The official opening is Monday 28 August from 17.00-21.00.
Speeches by CC’s Project Director Jens Erik Sørensen and Kira Perov.
Press kit and images are available for download from the CC http://cphco.org/presse/
For further information about the exhibition or CC please contact:
Janna Lund, Senior Curator
Phone: +45 20913199
This exhibition is kindly supported by
CC is supported by
A. P. Møller og Hustru Mc-Kinney Møllers Fond til almene Formaal, Augustinus Fonden, Aage og
Johanne Louis-Hansens Fond, Beckett-Fonden, Det Obelske Familiefond, Købmand Herman
Sallings Fond, Ole Kirk’s Fond, Realdania, 15. Juni Fonden, Statens Kunstfond, Axel Muusfeldts
Fond, Konsul George Jorck og hustru Emma Jorck's Fond, CAC Fonden, Ernst B. Sund
Fonden, Faurschou A/S, Kvadrat A/S, Tæppeland, Normann Copenhagen, Anonymous
foundation, Private donation.