William Kentridge

From 10 January 2004 to 29 February 2004

Curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev

January 10 – February, 2004


Amongst the foremost international artists today, William Kentridge sees his work as rooted in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he was born in 1955 and continues to live and create most of his work. His drawings, films transferred to video, installations and sculpture stem from an attempt to address the nature of human emotions and memory, as well as the relationship between desire, ethics, and responsibility. Kentridge investigates how our identities are shaped through our shifting ideas of history and place, looking at how we construct our histories and what we do with them. His is an elegiac art that explores the possibilities of poetry in contemporary society, and provides a vicious satirical commentary on that society, while proposing a way of seeing life as a continuous process of change rather than as a controlled world of facts.

In 1976, he graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand with majors in Politics and African Studies. During the 1990s, he gained international recognition for his distinctive animated short films, and for the charcoal drawings based on ‘erasure’ that he makes in order to produce them. He has also worked in theatre for many years, initially as a set designer and actor, and later as a director. Since 1992 he has worked in collaboration with Handspring Puppet Company – creating multi-media pieces using puppets, live actors and animation.

Whilst he has throughout his career moved between film, drawing and theatre, his primary activity remains drawing- and he sometimes conceives his theatre and film work as an expanded form of drawing.

Kentridge participated in the first two editions of the Johannesburg Biennial (1995 and 1997) which signaled an important shift towards addressing post-colonial issues in the artworld. He participated in documenta X in Kassel in 1997. A first survey show of his work was hosted by the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels in 1998, touring to Barcelona, London, Marseilles and Graz. He also exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego in 1998 and he was awarded the 1999 Carnegie Medal at Carnegie International. In 2001and 2002, a survey exhibition of his art traveled to Washington, New York, Chicago, Houston, and Los Angeles, and Cape Town.

This exhibition, organized by the Castello di Rivoli, is his first major public exhibition in Italy. Throughout 2004 and 2005, it will tour to Düsseldorf, Sydney, Montreal and Johannesburg. A survey of all his oeuvre with a particular focus on recent works, it presents drawings by the artist dating as far back as 1979, major early animated films, an important selection of projections onto objects and furniture, and a selection of recent works based on the artist’s interest in shadows as a metaphor for indirect vision and knowledge as well as in the techniques of early cinema.


Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev


From 10 January 2004 to 29 February 2004