Complesso di Santa Maria Novella 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 complex of Santa Maria Novella, including the basilica, the cloisters and the museum of this sprawling convent, recuperating the perception of the ancient Dominican settlement’s indivisible unity.
The former refectory, now part of the museum, hosts Bill Viola’s Tempest (Study for The Raft) (2005, 16’50”), in close proximity to the location of Paolo Uccello’s Great Flood and Recession of the Flood formerly in the Green Cloister and currently on display at Palazzo Strozzi.
In the video, a group of men and women from different walks of life are struck by a violent jet of water: some are swept away while others try to withstand the force of the water, huddling together in their attempt to survive. The jet of water suddenly stops, leaving behind it a handful of suffering, bewildered and bedraggled human beings. The violence of water, destruction and the suffering of man are themes that Paolo Uccello also addressed in his Great Flood, part of a cycle of frescoes that made an impression on Viola during his time in Florence “because many of the works of that era, from large public sculptures to paintings incorporated in church architecture, are simply a form of installation: a physical, spatial experience for total consumption.”