“William Kentridge: Fragile Identities,” University of Brighton, Brighton, England. Through Dec. 31.
University of Brighton presents William Kentridge’s new work on paper, installations and films, as well as The Soho Eckstein Series, the animated films for which he is best known. In The Guardian, Adrian Searle reports. “Kentridge is best known for his charcoal animations, for which he would draw, erase and redraw successive images on the same sheet of paper, photographing the process as he went. His most famous series of these, the Soho Eckstein films, follow the life and crimes of a white South African industrialist through the last years of apartheid and into the new democratic era. In the last Eckstein film, Tide Table (2003), the fat, ageing magnate expires in his deckchair on a beach while the world goes on around him. Writing in the Village Voice, Barbara Pollack compared the Eckstein films – none more than nine or 10 minutes long – with The Sopranos. The story seems as vast as a continent, but largely consists of what Kentridge leaves out, what is intimated but unseen; you have to make it up yourself. What is magical is how much Kentridge does with an animation technique that he has himself described as stone-age.
“In almost all of Kentridge’s animated films, as soon as we recognise an image, it is replaced by another, in a tide of erased and redrawn charcoal. Kentridge lays waste to his images in order for them to tell their story. His use of anamorphic images – rather like the phantom skull in Holbein’s The Ambassadors, that weird extruded shape that only reveals itself for what it is if we stand in a particular relationship to the painting – is meant to alert us to the fact that how we see things, and interpret events, depends on where we stand. Our judgments do not escape history. But Kentridge’s filmic anamorphosis is also great fun. It is mesmerising, even though its subject is grim, as was Holbein’s, reminding us that death is no respecter of persons. As Kentridge’s range gets bigger, his focus just gets more acute.” Read more. Watch videos of Kentridge videos on YouTube.