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Whitechapel Gallery presents a major exhibition of work by artist William Kentridge
Installation view. Photo: Doug Peters.


LONDON.- The exhibition titled Thick Time is curated by Iwona Blazwick, Whitechapel Gallery Director and is the artist’s first major public solo presentation in the UK in over 15 years.

William Kentridge (b.1955, Johannesburg) is one of South Africa’s pre-eminent artists, globally acclaimed for his drawings, films, lecture performances and opera and theatre productions. His work draws on varied sources, including philosophy, literature and early cinema to create intricate art works and spellbinding environments in which he explores theories of time and relativity, the history of colonialism and the aspirations and failures of revolutionary politics.

William Kentridge: Thick Time features six works created between 2003 and 2016 – including two of the artist’s immersive audio-visual installations, The Refusal of Time (2012) and O Sentimental Machine (2015), which have never previously been exhibited in the UK. The exhibition also features his flip-book film, Second-hand Reading (2013), a series of mural-scale tapestries based on his opera production of Shostakovich’s The Nose and a set model which reveals his working process on the opera production Lulu (2016), which he will direct at English National Opera this November.

The Refusal of Time (2012) is an all-enveloping, multi-sensory installation that explores the transformation of time into material objects, sound, images and mechanics. Inspired by a series of conversations between Kentridge and American scientist Peter Galison around theories of time, the work is an extraordinary synthesis of moving images, sound and performance. A breathing sculpture or ‘elephant’ at its heart is based on 19th century attempts to measure and control time during the industrial revolution and high point of European colonial expansion. First shown at dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany, The Refusal of Time is a collaboration between the artist with composer Philip Miller, projection designer and editor Catherine Meyburgh, and Peter Galison, a scientist from the United States.

The exhibition concludes with O Sentimental Machine (2015), originally commissioned for SALTWATER, 14th Istanbul Biennial, where it was installed in one of Istanbul’s oldest hotels, the Hotel Splendid Palas. In a critique of Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky's notion that people are ‘sentimental but programmable machines’, subtitled videos of speeches by Trotsky and also his time in exile in Istanbul are projected on to glass doors on either side of the installation, offering the viewer the opportunity to observe what is going on behind the closed doors.

William Kentridge: Thick Time is co-curated by Iwona Blazwick, Whitechapel Gallery Director and Sabine Breitwieser, Director, Museum der Moderne Salzburg and is organised with the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark (16 February – 18 June 2017), Museum der Moderne Kunst Salzburg (22 July – 5 November 2017) and the Whitworth, University of Manchester in 2018.






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