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11 NOVEMBER 2011

The Greeting is a film which pretends to be a painting

Bill "Viola's The Greeting is pretending to be a picture, hanging on the wall of the National Gallery, as part of 'The Passions' exhibition in 2003. The context of the gallery space and the badging of The Greeting as a picture give the work something different, making it more than just a film. The significance is in the context of where it is shown and the pretence occurring that this is a picture. Indeed, when walking downstairs in the National Gallery towards 'The Passions' exhibition, it is seeing it hanging on the wall that strikes immediately; I am being invited to believe that this animated film is pretending to be a picture. The analogy is of the picture becoming an actor, pretending to be something else. In terms of form, The Greeting is a film. Therefore, what is it that makes it now defined as an exhibition, a part of Viola's 'The Passions' in 2003? It is only the fact that it's part of a gallery that makes it an exhibition, although in reality it is also actors directed by a video artist into this film, slowed down and with no sound, which is pretending to be a painting. Therefore, it is conceptual art, in that what the artist is doing is not just making a painting, or having the idea for a painting, but having the idea of where it should be staged. The inscribed text of the space in which it is viewed makes a difference to what the viewer or spectator sees, and what is going on."

(Alison Oddey, 2007, p.70)

3). Alison Oddey (2007). "Re–Framing". In: "Re–Framing the Theatrical", Palgrave Macmillan. 1–21.

Fig.1 Bill Viola (1995). "The Greeting".
Fig.2 Jacopo Carucci da Pontormo "The Visitation".



2003actorsallusionart historyartistartistic experience • Bill Viola • conceptual artcontextexhibitionfigurationfilmgallery • gallery space • hanging on the wall • homage • inscribed text of the space • interdisciplinaryliving picturesmetatheatricalityNational Gallerypainting • Passions (exhibition) • performancepicturepretence • pretending • pretending to be a painting • re-framing • reenactmentreflexive foregroundingremediationspacespectatorspectatorship • staged • stagingtableau vivant • The Greeting • The Passions • the role of the spectator • the viewer • theatre-art • theatricaltime slowed downvideo artvideo artistviewer


Simon Perkins

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