Bill Viola

The Sleepers, 1992

Bill Viola
The Sleepers
Dimensions and medium
7 metal barrels, 7 black and white video monitors, 7 single-channel videos, 385 gallons of water, 1/2, 524 × 584 cm (variable dimensions according to the exhibition space)
Artwork description
Since the early 1970s, Bill Viola has created video installations that explore degrees of human consciousness, the body, and time. His video installation The Sleepers consists of seven metal barrels filled with water. At the bottom of each barrel, a monitor plays a 30-minute video loop of a different person’s sleeping face seen in close-up, filmed in real time. Only the light of the black and white monitors fills the exhibition space, producing a peaceful, inviting blue glow, and a dream-like atmosphere conducive to meditation. As viewers witness the sometimes fitful, sometimes peaceful sleep of these strangers—including one entering his “final sleep”—they are confronted with a familiar yet troubling image, and invited to contemplate their own fragility and finiteness.

See Also


Only a part of the collection is currently online and the artworks on display at the MAC are accompanied by the icon

The contents presented in this section are not exhaustive and may be subject to revision. If you have comments to share, or errors to report, please contact us at [email protected].

For information about copyright and intellectual property, or for a reproduction request, see our Terms of Use.