Collection Online

Ocean without a shore

three channel colour high definition video transferred to computer hard drive, sound, plasma screen monitors, audio speakers
90 min 420.0 × 670.0 × 997.0 cm (variable) (installation)
Place/s of Execution
Long Beach, California, United States
edition of 3
Accession Number
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds donated by Loti Smorgon AO and Victor Smorgon AC, 2008
© Bill Viola, courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York Photo: Kira Perov
Gallery location
Level 3, NGV International

Bill Viola’s Ocean without a shore, which takes its title from the writings of the Andalucian Sufi mystic Ibn Arabi (1165–1240), investigates the threshold between life and death, or as the artist has stated, ‘the presence of the dead in our lives’. The installation is emblematic of Viola’s considered attention to human beings undergoing various states of transformation and renewal. In the installation, three video screens become surfaces for the manifestation of images of the dead attempting to re-enter our world. The physical threshold through which the figures pass is not a digital effect, but actually a ‘sheet’ of cascading water.