A cluster of people is waiting for something. They avoid eye contact with one another the way urban dwellers do. But instead of a bus or a train arriving, a deluge of water suddenly overtakes them from both sides. This is The Raft
, a video installation by artist Bill Viola at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (4525 Oak, 816-751-1278), on exhibit through April 29. Washing over its audience like waves, the slow-motion film "allows you to see the expressions on the people's faces in a way that seems to suspend time," says Leesa Fanning, the Nelson's associate curator of modern and contemporary art. "It's not like anything we see in our waking consciousness. It's more dreamlike." Fanning hosts an hourlong panel discussion, beginning at 2 p.m., in the museum's Atkins Auditorium — with Buddhist lama Chuck Stanford, psychologist Linda Moore, and Unicorn Theatre director Cynthia Levin — on the social and spiritual implications of The Raft
. See nelson-atkins.org
for more information.