William Kentridge : Thick Time. Installations and Stagings
Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Austria 29 Jul 2017 - 05 Nov 2017
William Kentridge, More Sweetly Play the Dance, 2015. Installation view, EYE Filmmuseum, Amsterdam, 2015. Courtesy William Kentridge, Marian Goodman Gallery, Goodman Gallery and Lia Rumma Gallery. Photo: Studio Hans Wilschut.
The Museum der Moderne Salzburg is presenting a comprehensive survey at the museum’s two venues of the work of the internationally celebrated South African artist William Kentridge.
Spectacular multimedia installations are on view on the Mönchsberg, while works for theater and opera are being shown for the first time in a dedicated exhibition in the Rupertinum—across the street from the Haus für Mozart, where Kentridge is directing Alban Berg’s opera Wozzeck for the Salzburg Festival. A new installation in the Rupertinum atrium will also remain in place for a full year.
William Kentridge (1955 Johannesburg, South Africa) rose to prominence in the 1990s with expressive drawings, which he animated in videos. His oeuvre, which covers four decades, has featured different artistic disciplines. For many years, Kentridge has been working successfully on major opera and theater productions. His close relationship with the theater, where he has worked as an actor, producer, set and costume designer, informs his visual art, and vice versa. His multimedia installations for exhibitions and the theater combine outstanding draftsmanship with theatrical vitality. A theme that runs through his entire oeuvre is his preoccupation with colonialism, revolution, and exile, and with the meaning of time and its manifestations. His art blends the epic with the mundane, comedy and tragedy.
In the auditorium in the Mönchsberg building a classic work by William Kentridge, the film 10 Drawings for Projection (1989–2011) made from charcoal drawings, serves as an introduction to the artist’s favorite themes. The large exhibition space on level  showcases seven expansive multimedia installations. The works 7 Fragments for Georges Méliès, Day for Night and Journey to the Moon (2003), a homage to the French silent movie pioneer, give an idea of the artist’s method of working. Two of his more recent installations will also be on show, Notes Towards a Model Opera (2015) about the Cultural Revolution in China and O Sentimental Machine (2015), produced for the Istanbul Biennale, about the Turkish exile of the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky. In Second-Hand Reading (2013) Kentridge presents an early type of film in the form of a flip-book. The exhibition continues with The Refusal of Time, a spectacular work created for documenta 13 (2012) in Kassel about time as a form of political and social control. The large exhibition room features a procession of moving images on a 50‑meter frieze entitled More Sweetly Play the Dance (2016). A selection of tapestries and objects and a reading room with numerous publications by and about William Kentridge round off the exhibition.
The stairs leading to the exhibition level provide the setting for a new anamorphic installation created specially for this site, which when viewed from a certain angle becomes a portrait of the Austrian composer Alban Berg.
The exhibition in the Rupertinum is dedicated to Kentridge’s exploration of theater and opera, with a separate project being looked at in each room. An installation consisting of black paper figures, made on site by the artist, leads visitors through the atrium to the two exhibition levels. A vast array of exhibits will be on show, including posters, drawings, sketches, models, and costumes, created since the late 1970s for his major productions. The Franz-West-Lounge has been converted into a studio for William Kentridge and his team. It will be open to visitors at certain times, offering a glimpse of the finishing touches to his production of Alban Berg’s opera Wozzeck, which will premiere as part of the Salzburg Festival on August 8, 2017.
Curator: Sabine Breitwieser, director; with Tina Teufel, assistant curator
Consultant curator for theater: Denise Wendel-Poray, Paris
Exhibition architecture: Sabine Theunissen
An exhibition in cooperation with the Whitechapel Gallery, London, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, and the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, curated by Iwona Blazwick and Sabine Breitwieser.
Exhibition catalogue: William Kentridge—Thick Time: Installations and Stagings
Edited by Iwona Blazwick and Sabine Breitwieser, with contributions by Homi K. Bhabha, Iwona Blazwick, Sabine Breitwieser, Michael Juul Holm, William Kentridge, Joseph Leo Koerner, and Denise Wendel-Poray, Whitechapel Gallery Publications, London (English version), Broschur, 24.5 x 28.5 cm, 256 p., 315 ill.
Museum der Moderne Salzburg