Gallerie degli Uffizi and Bill Viola
On the occasion of Bill Viola. Electronic Renaissance the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi is taking the show out of the palazzo and into other venues in Florence through the creation of specific cultural joint ventures designed to enhance visitors’ experience of destinations and cultural assets.
One of this venues is the Galleria degli Uffizi occupying a large building erected to a design by Giorgio Vasari between 1560 and 1580, with its outstanding collections, one of the most famous museums in the world.
Bill Viola donated a video entitled Self Portrait, Submerged (10’18”) – displayed in Room 43 for the duration of the exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi – to the Uffizi in 2013 and it entered the gallery’s collection of self-portraits begun by Cardinal Leopoldo de’ Medici in 1664. The largest and most important collection of self-portraits in the world, it continues to grow even today with donations from contemporary artists.
The artist’s self-portrait harks back to an episode that occurred when young Bill, aged six, was holidaying with his uncle in the mountains. He attempted to imitate his cousin and dived into a lake, but he forgot to hold his breath and so he began to sink. In fact, he would have drowned had his uncle not rescued him. Yet despite the harrowing experience, Bill was not afraid, in fact it became the best memory of his entire life. The star sitting “like a Buddha” on the lake bottom and admiring the underwater life with its fish, its vegetation and its blue, diffused light, found the beauty of everything he saw so enchanting that he only realised what had happened after his rescue. “Since then, water has been central to my world. It is life but it can also destroy life. It prompts me to say: go beneath the surface of things, aim for their soul’”.
Piazzale degli Uffizi 6, Firenze