William Kentridge

This review of William Kentridge’s show at The EYE film museum in Amsterdam appeared on artforum.com:

View of “William Kentridge: If We Ever Get to Heaven,” 2015.

Spread over four oddly shaped rooms, this tight-knit exhibition begins with a portrait gallery of cardboard cutouts mounted on the walls. Roughly sketched out, effigies of Cicero and Giordano Bruno rub shoulders with those of Chinese revolutionary heroes as well as some token household items (a bathtub, a typewriter) tucked away at one end. Affixed to wooden poles or borne on shoulders, these effigies are among the trophies carried by members of the shadow procession unfolding across eight screens in William Kentridge’s new video installation, More Sweetly Play the Dance, 2015, around which the show is built.

Filmed walking on a raised platform in a studio, the performers—some of whom are sheathed in plastic, which partly obscures their colorful clothing and forms a luminous halo around each figure—are perfectly framed by a glowering sky and some straggly vegetation in Kentridge’s animated charcoal drawings. In this layered work, color and monochrome, movement and stasis, reality and fantasy, combine into one fluid whole to beguiling effect.

An even wider range of animation techniques is deployed in Other Faces, 2011, the latest in Kentridge’s “Drawings for Projection” series, 1989–, and in the eight-screen video installation I Am Not Me, the Horse Is Not Mine, 2008, which presents thematic and formal overlaps with the new work. I Am Not Me grew out of the artist’s work on Dmitri Shostakovich’s satirical opera The Nose (1928) for the Metropolitan Opera in 2010, just as More Sweetly was developed alongside a new production of Alban Berg’s Lulu (1935) that Kentridge directed in 2015 at the Dutch National Opera.


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