The Currier Museum of Art presents Bill Viola’s The Raft

Immersive video promises to overwhelm visitors.

The Currier Museum of Art is pleased to present Bill Viola: The Raft, which is a powerful video installation by one of the most significant artists of our time. It considers the range of human response to crisis, wherever it may be found. The Raft is on view at the museum from June 8 to September 8, 2019. Originally created for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, the presentation at the Currier Museum is the first stop on a new national tour, organized by the American Federation of Arts and Bill Viola Studio. The stirring imagery of The Raft provokes moral and spiritual questions. How would one react to such an overwhelming event? How responsible are we for one another? Should we stand alone or help those in need?

The Raft depicts, at life-sized scale, a group of ordinary people casually standing together. Suddenly, they are struck by strong blasts of water that rush in, overtake them, and then, just as unexpectedly, recede. The victims huddle together, seek protection, and help those who have fallen. The viewer experiences this with great immediacy, standing in a darkened room and surrounded by the roaring sounds of the water. Meticulously captured in slow-motion, The Raft arouses a visceral experience of human calamity and shared humanity, provoking a consideration of the range of responses to crisis.

The Raft recalls historic works, in particular, Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa (1818-19), a monumental Romantic painting of survivors of a shipwreck. The arrangement of figures in Viola’s video also relates to the friezes of ancient Greek and Roman art.

“This remarkable video resonates with many issues facing contemporary society,” stated Samantha Cataldo, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Currier Museum. Bill Viola has said that in this world of unstable and often unseen powers, an attack can come at any time for seemingly no reason. For Viola, it is important that everyone in The Raft survives, which is a statement of the resilience of humanity.

This presentation of Bill Viola: The Raft is organized by the American Federation of Arts (AFA) and Bill Viola Studio.

The Raft is part of ArtRoom, an ongoing series of contemporary art installations organized by the AFA.

This presentation is made possible, in part, by funds from the A.R. Brooks Trust.