Bill Viola, the death experience and the religion

Bill Viola experienced an extraordinary epiphany in 1957 when he was six years old. On a family holiday in upstate New York, he jumped off a raft into a trout lake, lost his inflatable support and sank to the bottom.
Where many of us would thrash and panic, Viola has claimed he remained calm: “I was witnessing this extraordinarily beautiful world with light filtering down,” he once said. “It was like paradise. I didn’t even know that I was drowning… For a moment there was absolute bliss.”
The Queens-born artist later likened it to being “in another dimension”. His uncle pulled him out of the water to safety, though Viola recalled his anger at being wrenched from his subaquatic rapture. Inevitably it affected him profoundly: “Later I knew I had crossed the threshold to death,” he said.
by Ben Luke
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