The Crossing


Bill Viola ( American, 1951 )

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General Description

In Bill Viola's The Crossing, two moving image works are projected simultaneously on a double-sided screen suspended in the middle of the space. Each projection shows a single action involving a human figure that culminates in its annihilation by one of two opposing natural forces, fire and water. The sequences, timed to play in perfect synchronization with the conflagration and deluge occurring simultaneously, climax in a crescendo of images and sound. The screens return to black and silence ensues before the cycle repeats. The two traditional natural elements of fire and water appear here not only in their destructive aspects, but manifest cathartic, purifying, and regenerative capacities as well. Self-annihilation is posited as a necessary means to transcendence and liberation, reflecting Viola's interest in Eastern and Western philosophies, religions, and poetry.


Adapted from

  • Suzanne Weaver, "New Media at the Dallas Museum of Art," in Dallas Museum of Art, 100 Years , ed. Dorothy M. Kosinski (Dallas, TX: Dallas Museum of Art, 2003), Pamphlet number 79.

  • DMA Label copy.

  • DMA unpublished material, 1998.

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