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Art and the Church -> Materials for Use in Churches

Year C, Advent 4 - J. Pontormo and Bill Viola

Year C, Advent 4, Revised Common Lectionary

Jacopo Pontormo: The Visitation and Bill Viola: The Greeting

On the left we see The Visitation (the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth) by the Renaissance painter Jacopo Pontormo. This work served as the starting point for the art video The Greeting (1995) by Bill Viola, of which we can see a still on the right (part of the video can be seen on YouTube).

In Pontormo’s work we see four women, where the two in the back look the same as the two in the front, looking at us intently. This is how Pontormo emphasises the profound meaning of this meeting.

Bill Viola, who is inspired by Christian mysticism (among other influences), does something similar with a different medium. First of all by slowing down the 45 seconds of the shot to 10 minutes. Every movement, every glance is enlarged. In this way, Viola transforms an everyday, informal women’s chat on the street into a special moment in the history of salvation.

In the video there are first two women, then Mary arrives to greet Elizabeth. The wind is audibly present and it intensifies when the two women embrace, so that their dresses begin to flutter wildly.

It is the first moment when Mary steps outside with her child who is going to change the world.

Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker

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Jacopo Pontormo: The Visitation, ca 1528-29; oil on panel, 202 x 156 cm. Pieve di San Michele Arcangolo in Carmignano, Italy.

Bill Viola: The Greeting, 1995, video. Museum de Pont in Tilburg, The Netherlands. See a fragment: Bill Viola - The Greeting (1995) - YouTube

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Year C, Advent 4, Revised Common Lectionary

Scripture readings: Micah 5:2-5a, Psalm 80:1-7, Hebrews 10:5-10, Luke 1:39-45, (46-55)