Home Magazine 3 Revolutionary Video Artists you Should Know!

It has become clear that video art is having more and more space inside the most important contemporary art manifestations. Indeed, apparently this media it's having a good reaction from the current art goers, maybe because the fruition seems easier compared to other conceptual artistic genres of the latest years. For that reason, we selected three fundamental video artists: Bill Viola, Pipilotti Rist and Ed Atkins, different from each other, and also for the belonging generation.

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Bill Viola in front of his work Deluge. Photo ©Alessandro Moggi.

Bill Viola...

With art, Bill Viola brings people to a mystic world. Born in Queens, New York in 1951, Viola's contribution to visual art and conceptual video art is fundamental. From the beginning of his career, Viola took inspiration from mystical traditions, especially Zen Buddhism, Christian mysticism and Islamic Sufism, and precisely for that reason, the artist has never ceased to travel all around the world. In 1973, he graduated from Syracuse University with a BFA in experimental studies. In 1970 Viola started to work as an assistant of Nam June Paik and Peter Campus, and between 1973 and 1980 he worked with the composer David Tudor and the avant-garde music group Composers Inside Electronics. From 1974 to 1976, he lived in Florence as a technical production manager of the Art/Tapes/22 Video Studio, a period marked as an important one in Viola's research for his growing passion for the medieval and Renaissance period. Among the works from this period, we can mention the famous "The Space Between the Teeth" (1976), already showcasing the strong emotional essence of his work, always looking for a powerful impact on the viewer. In 1995 he represented the United States at the 46th Venice Biennale, where he presented a series of works called Buried Secrets; this included one of his best-known works "The Greeting", a contemporary interpretation of Pontormo's "The Visitation" (1528-1530). In 1978, and again in 1983 and 1989, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Viola with the Visual Artist Fellowship for his work in video. In 1998, Viola was the Getty Scholar-in-residence at the Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles). Another pivotal moment of his career was 2003, when though different exhibition in Los Angeles, London, Madrid, and Canberra he presented the masterpiece "The passion": a slow-motion series of works inspired by traditions within the Renaissance devotional painting. Discover more about the relation of Bill Viola with the Renaissance period: "Bill Viola / Michelangelo. Life Death Rebirth" at the Royal Academy of Art...


Pipilotti Rist at Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona. Courtesy Wikipedia

Pipilotti Rist... 

Elizabeth Rist, better known as Pipilotti Rist, was born in 1962 in Rheintal, Switzerland. Right away, her name denotes two very important aspects of her works: an extraordinary ability to create surreal associations and the not being scared of biting humour. Indeed, this moniker dated 1982 is an ironic mix between her childhood name Lotti and the famous Astrid Lindgren character Pippi Longstocking. She moved to Vienna in the 1980s to study commercial art, illustration, and photography at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. She then attended her studies in video at the School of Design (Schule für Gestaltung) in Basel, Switzerland. Here she produced her first video "I’m Not the Girl Who Misses Much" (1986): a five-minute single-channel video wherein an empty room a young woman is dancing manically around while singing ‘I’m not the girl who misses much', an homage to a John Lennon song dedicated to Yoko Ono. From 1988 to 1994, she played in a rock band called Les Reines Prochaines; this experience is very important for her aesthetic language in which body, video and music are in a reciprocal dialogue. Pipilotti was often considered a feminist artist: "Politically," she says, "I am a feminist, but personally, I am not. For me, the image of a woman in my art does not stand just for women: she stands for all humans. I hope a young guy can take just as much from my art as any woman." In 1997 Rist was awarded with the Premio 2000 at the Venice Biennale for the video "Ever Is Over All" (1997), in which a young woman smashes car windows with a large red flower. From 2002 to 2003, she was invited by Paul McCarthy to teach at UCLA. At the 66th Venice International Film Festival in 2009, she presented another very important work titled "Pepperminta" (2009): a fantastic story where two girls are trying to find perfect colour combinations which make people free from fear and makes their life better. If you are really interested in deep more who are the most important female contemporary artists, don't miss our article: A Spotlight on Women in Contemporary Art...


Ed Atkins at Kiasma. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Ed Atkins... 

Defined as "one of the great artists of our time" by the Swiss curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist, the British artist Ed Atkins has a completely upsetting way to create video art. Atkins was born in 1982 in Stonesfield, a small village outside Oxford and he earned his bachelor's degree from Central Saint Martins and later graduated from The Slade School of University College London with a master's degree in Fine Art. At only 37 years old, the artist had a solo exhibition at the Tate Britain, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, the Chisenhale Gallery, MoMA PS1, the Serpentine Gallery, Palais de Tokyo, and Kunsthalle Zürich. These days, Atkins' works are displayed inside the Central Pavillon and Arsenale spaces of the 58th Venice Biennale with the video installation "Old Food" (2017-2019) and the series of drawings titled "Bloom". Through video completely generated by computer-image, Atkins' videos oeuvre is composed largely of stock footage and CGI avatars that are animated using motion capture and cinematic special effects. Many protagonists of Atkins' Videos live a surrogate existence and their expression, generally in the form of soliloquy, oscillate between the cultured and the profane. His characters, entities halfway between human and non-human, turn directly to the viewer and push them to reflect on existential issues. As the artist said: "Art is the only place where I can think of putting together so many different things and doing it alone in my room: writing, performing, composing music and making videos. Building an animation for me is not so different from constructing a sentence or a narrative ”. Among the most important works, we can mention "Warm, Warm, Warm Spring Mouths" (2013), "Even Pricks" (2013), "Ribbons" (2014), "Safe Conduct" (2016). Discover more about The 10 “to go” at the Venice Biennale!

Cover image. Ed Atkins at Castello di Rivoli, Torino 2016-2017


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