ST. LOUIS, MO.- The Saint Louis Art Museum opened the exhibit Media Series: William Kentridge, Tide Table on view through September 4. The sixth installation in the Museum's New Media Series features Tide Table, a 2003 work by William Kentridge (South African, born 1955). Kentridge has won wide acclaim for animated films that use a recurring cast of fictional characters to explore the post-industrial landscape, racial tension, and the AIDS epidemic in his native South Africa.
Kentridge's method differs from traditional animation in that he uses a single sheet of paper for many frames, filming a series of additions and erasures rather than a succession of separate images. Literal erasure of the images can function metaphorically in Kentridge's films, alluding to the disappearance of people, communities, and memory.
Multiple narratives intersect in Tide Table. The industrialist Soho Eckstein, a character developed over a period of 15 years by Kentridge (having first appeared in Johannesburg, 2nd Greatest City after Paris, 1989) watches several events unfold from his beachside hotel room and from the beach itself. Military generals ominously populate the balconies of the hotel, while beach chairs take on human characteristics and dance before transforming into sickbeds for ailing patients. In Tide Table, the beach is a site of death and desperation, but also a place for play, passion, and spiritual regeneration.
Kentridge has been the subject of two recent major retrospectives that traveled to venues including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; South African National Gallery, Capetown; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; and the Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli-Turin.
Tide Table is on view in Gallery 301 from June 1 to September 4. The New Media Series is curated by Robin Clark, associate curator of contemporary art.