William Kentridge – Whitechapel Gallery
The Refusal of Time
The initial work encompasses many of Kentridge’s themes and working methods:-
“This work explores how the measurement and control of time, space and light have led not only to greater scientific understanding, but also to the exploitation of global resources and peoples.” (exhibition handout )
He utilises the depiction through complex made up machinery as above which reminded me of different mechanised textile machinery, early computers, depicting useless actions repeated again and again.
The room was surrounded by screens upon which an ongoing carnival of silhouettes of actors and dancers act out another repeating procession. Screens also show early scientists engaged in experimentation. You are surrounded by action, movement, engagement on what it is not clear.
It is interesting to have so much happening in one space and it is difficult to “watch” any of the action for any length of time without being diverted by another action elsewhere in the room. It is both distracting and attracting at the same time.
The Tapestry Library
“The Streets of the City a horse gallops across two ancient maps, of southern Europe and of Italy’s Abruzzo region, These detached aerial views contrast with the drama of the animal collaged from slogans, emblematic of the street as a site of protest”. (exhibition handout)
Having come from a tapestry training I often find the work of artists translated into tapestry very disappointing because the images do not work well in the medium. However this very strong image and its 2 other neighbours, are surprisingly strong and engaging. Kentridge has used his collage technique to advantage in contrast to the details of the maps. I also like the inclusion of the working lines, overlapping of what looks like photocopying and stray treads etc.
Right Into Her Arms
Drawing from musical scores by Alban Berg and Kurt Schwitters’ sound poem Kentridge create a theatrical piece projected onto 3 moving theatre flats. The flats move in and out turn and the images influenced by the woodcut prints of Otto Dix, George Grosz etc intertwine around the “stage”.
This is an engaging piece using a variety of materials and methods intermingled onto the staged canvas that he has created. I was inspired by this to buy a copy of Lulu an opera that he directed and designed in 2015. (more notes to follow when I have watched the opera).
O Sentimental Machine
“A cast of megaphones, typewriters and movie cameras represent the 20th century technologies that drove progress and social change dramatised by Philip Miller’s score….Behind closed doors we see futurism become history as the gestures and props of revolution sink under water” (exhibition handout)
Kentridge’s extremely enjoyable and complex works defy my immediate analysis. I was drawn to the variety that he uses in terms of method and image and the way he has confined this over time to produce very strong and thoughtful pieces.
Following the exhibition I have spent time watching many interviews and films on his work on YouTube – which I will refer to later.(see Bibliography).