Sunday, February 28, 2010

Everything is Provisional

In the early part of this decade one of animation's greatest living artists was living in New York as Columbia University's resident artist.

That this escaped the "animation community" is evidence of the insular, self referential natures of all groups.

Fortunately, the insular, self referential "art community" has not failed to take notice of William Kentridge.  Nearly a decade after his landmark exhibition at the Guggenheim SoHo, the MoMA now has  an even more impressive, more expansive show (originally mounted by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art).

Here's the official exhibition site.

Many who work in animation will have gallery shows in attempt to expand their audience.  Often, this work has solid technical foundation and a level of "appeal" that animators are trained to go after.  Kentridge's work -his drawings hang in the main galleries of the show -have power.  Strong charcoals, kinetic viscera --impact.  First and foremost, Kentridge is a great artist.  Moving pictures is simply his primary means of communication.

Three of the galleries were wholly new to me -mostly work created in the last decade.  They mark a departure from what we may know as "Kentridge films".  Journey to the Moon is part homage to Georges Melies, but more a stepping stone for the artist to move into the otherworldly.  This pays off with his stirring treatment of Die Zauberflote in the next gallery which projects on 3 channels in succession.  Two of the projections are even in a sort of 3D.

It's an extraordinary exhibit.  The curators, the architects, the engineers, everyone who put it together should be proud.  Give yourself at least 3 hours to take it in, or plan on multiple trips.

The gallery for the older Soho and Felix series (which contains my favorite image of his -"Her Absence Filled The World") has this statement from the artist:

"Everything can be saved.  Everything is provisional. A prior action is rescued by that which follows. A drawing abandoned is revived by the next drawing... The smudges of erasure thicken time in the film, but they also serve as a record of the days and months spent making the film -a record of thinking in slow motion."
 Here's a bootleg clip from a theatrical performance of The Magic Flute directed by Kentridge, embedding is disabled. CLICK HERE to have your mind blown

1 comment:

Liesje said...

Thank you again. Truly inspirational. I plan on going at least once more; I could have sat in the Magic Flute exhibit for hours.