BILL VIOLA: THE ROAD TO ST PAUL’s’ is a powerful, moving portrait of the world’s most influential video artist, BILL VIOLA, and his wife and close collaborator, Kira Perov. The film documents the couple’s 12-year odyssey to create two permanent video installations for St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Martyrs (2014) and Mary (2016) symbolise some of the profound mysteries of human existence. This film follows Viola’s remarkable story of creating the first art commission of its kind to be installed in Britain’s most famous religious space.
The film takes the audience on a fascinating journey through the spiritual oeuvre of this ground-breaking, Los Angeles-based artist. The film offers a rare insight into the creative process involved in the making of complex, large-scale video installations as well as the nature of the close working relationship between husband and wife. The film was shot on Super 16 on the deserted landscapes and deserts of California as Viola builds his epic works for St Paul’s Cathedral, and the streets of Paris and London as director/producer Gerald Fox looks back at the art and career of this seminal artist, who, since the early 1970s, has taken video art to a new level of acceptance in contemporary art.
Gerald Fox started shooting the documentary as part of ITV’s ‘The South Bank Show’ in 2005, commissioned by the film’s executive producer, Melvyn Bragg, and finished it in 2017. The first installation, ‘Martyrs’, shows four individuals, across four colour vertical plasma screens, being martyred by the four classical elements – the work has no sound and lasts for seven thrilling minutes. ‘Martyrs’ was joined in 2016 by ‘Mary’, (left shown with Bill Viola and Kira Perov) which plays across three screens, and metaphorically depicts events in the life of the matriarch shot over the four seasons and set in the contemporary, physical world.
Bill Viola is widely recognised as the world’s leading pioneer of video art. Over 30 years he has created architectural video installations, sound environments, electronic music performances, and more. His works focus on universal human experiences—birth, death, the unfolding of consciousness and he has been instrumental in the establishment of video as a vital form of contemporary art.
Director, producer, writer: Gerald Fox
Editor: John Street
Directors of Photography: Steve Haskett, Simon Fanthorpe
Sound: John Quinn
UK 2017 | 82 minutes