18th September - 18th December, Thessaloniki
Born (1955) in Johannesbourg, South Africa, where he lives and works. He studied at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesbourg (1976), at the Johannesbourg Art Foundation (1976-78) and at École Jacques Lecoq, Paris (1981-82). William Kentridge’s work has been seen in museums and galleries around the world since the 1990s, including Documenta in Kassel, Germany (1997, 2003), the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1998, 2010), the Albertina Museum in Vienna (2010), the Jeu de Paume in Paris (2010). Kentridge’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute was presented at Theatre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Festival d’Aix, and in 2011 at La Scala in Milan. He directed Shostakovich’s The Nose for the Met Opera in New York in 2010 (the production goes to Festival d’Aix and to Lyon in 2011), to coincide with a major exhibition at MoMA. Also in 2010 the Musee du Louvre in Paris presented Carnets d’Egypte, a project conceived especially for the Egyptian room at the Louvre. In the same year, Kentridge received the prestigious Kyoto Prize in recognition of his contributions in the field of arts and philosophy.
Zeno Writing, a multi-media project by the South African artist William Kentridge, which includes a short animated film and supporting drawings, is based on Italo Svevo’s novel The Conscience of Zeno (1923). The novel, set against the backdrop of industrial development and war in the early decades of the last century, focuses on an individual living through extreme social transformation.
Technically humble in their composition, Kentridge’s films are rich in meaning and vision. He begins with a single sheet of paper, laboriously erasing and reworking the image, photographing each drawing after its alteration. Kentridge’s figures, all of them in silhouette […] are merely half-human and appear so from only one point of view. As they turn and shift throughout the course of the film, they reveal themselves to be mechanical apparatuses, not really human at all.
Mimicked by the flutter of cigarette smoke and by the looping of warplanes, the writing draws attention to the film’s title. Zeno, encouraged by his psychiatrist, writes his autobiography, a stream-of-consciousness project that Kentridge translates into visual form. A typewriter’s phalangeal fingers dance rigidly as the sound of the carriage return rings out. The landscape scrolls horizontally, mimicking the movement of words across the page. The landscape starts as a picket-fenced yard, and then is zapped into barren land encased in barbed wire. The transformation alludes to the dichotomy between the idyllic life Zeno wants to lead and the brutal reality of the war that surrounds him.
All of this back and forth, pushing and pulling, stopping and starting blatantly exposes the inherent uncertainty of the modern world. The figures have holes -they are uncertain creatures in their make up. “I promise my wife to stop smoking at 2 pm”. Even this is uncertain.