Today @ AK

William Kentridge

South African, born 1955

Image courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York. Photograph by John Berens.

Other Faces, 2011

35mm film transferred to DVD and hard drive, edition 3/12
Running time: 9 minutes, 36 seconds
George B. and Jenny R. Mathews Fund, by exchange, 2011

Other Faces is the latest addition to Kentridge’s “Drawings for Projection,” an ongoing series of films in which the artist uses a 35mm movie camera to film successive stages of charcoal drawings that are progressively altered through erasure and overdrawing. Like Johannesburg, 2nd Greatest City after Paris, 1989, the first animation in the series, Other Faces features the protagonist Soho Eckstein, a white industrialist and land developer living in post-apartheid South Africa. Kentridge grew up amid the racial turmoil in Johannesburg, making Other Faces a distinct, contextually grounded work. Informed by the racial tensions Kentridge has witnessed, the film addresses the socio-political traumas inflicted upon individuals by apartheid and civil war. Other Faces begins with an automobile collision involving Eckstein and a black preacher in downtown Johannesburg. An argument ensues, and the film fades into Eckstein’s recollections of the event and his interaction with the preacher, reflecting the two men’s fractured understanding of their country’s past.

Throughout Other Faces, Kentridge draws with charcoal and touches of blue and red pastel. His steady consolidations, through erasure, and frenzied additions, through redrawing, produce impressionistic images. These contrasting techniques seem to capture the artist’s fleeting contemplations—the cycle of works in his “Drawings for Projection” series continually address the contrary sides of the self. About the process of drawing, Kentridge has written, “My drawings don’t start with a ‘beautiful mark. . . . It has to be a mark of something out there in the world. It doesn’t have to be an accurate drawing, but it has to stand for an observation, not something that is abstract, like an emotion.”

about the Artist

William Kentridge was born in 1955 in Johannesburg, South Africa. He studied at the Johannesburg Art Foundation and the École internationale de théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris. Kentridge has received numerous prizes, including the Kaiserring Prize (2003), the Carnegie Prize, Carnegie International (2000), the Standard Bank Young Artist Award (1987), and the Red Ribbon Award for Short Fiction (1982).

Recent solo exhibitions of his work have been presented at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Jeu de Paume, Paris; the Albertina Museum, Vienna; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; and the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach. His work has also been featured in recent group exhibitions at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Siegen, Germany; the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and the Mercosul Visual Arts Biennial Foundation, Porto Alegre, Brazil. A major retrospective exhibition of Kentridge’s work was held in 1998 at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, while a second exhibition, held in 2001, was co-organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York.

Kentridge’s works deal with the subjects of apartheid, colonialism, and totalitarianism. A founding member of the Free Filmmakers Co-operative in 1988, he is best known for animated films based on charcoal drawings, but also works in prints, books, collage, sculpture, and the performing arts. The extent to which he mixes media and disciplines is apparent in his staging and design of Dmitri Shostakovich’s The Nose, as well as his installation I am not me, the horse is not mine, which is based on the absurdist short story by Nikolai Gogol. Kentridge’s works explore the extent of the artist’s control over his own creations, presented through multiple selves. He currently lives and works in Johannesburg.

Related Events

AK Film Premiere: William Kentridge’s Other Faces, 2011
Friday, September 2, 2011, 7 pm