William Kentridge, ‘Refuse the Hour’, 2015, BAM

Part of 2015 Next Wave Festival

William Kentridge
Philip Miller
Dada Masilo, Catherine Meyburgh, Peter Galison

“Can we hold our breath against time?” Speaking backwards and forwards, to the unsynced ticking of giant metronomes, inimitable South African artist William Kentridge (The Magic Flute, 2007 Winter/Spring; The Nose, Metropolitan Opera) delves into a phantasmagoric investigation of temporality in this multimedia chamber opera composed by Philip Miller, a companion to Kentridge’s five-channel video installation The Refusal of Time (Metropolitan Museum of Art, Documenta 13).

Amid spinning dancers, megaphoned singers, multi-instrumentalists, incessant animations, and a lone physicist, Kentridge himself delivers an elliptical lecture-performance on productive procrastination, myth, entropy, empire, and black holes. With choreography by Dada Masilo, video design by Catherine Meyburgh, and dramaturgy by Peter Galison, this delirious Dadaist cuckoo clock courses through time both operatic and cinematic, personal and collective, industrial and colonial, to tease meaning from the passing seconds.

About William Kentridge

In his drawings and animations, William Kentridge articulates the concerns of post-Apartheid South Africa with unparalleled nuance and lyricism. In the inventive process by which he created his best-known works, Kentridge draws and erases with charcoal, recording his compositions at each state. He then displays a video projection of the looped images alongside their highly worked and re-worked source drawings. In this way, his process and aesthetic concerns are inextricably linked with the narrative power of his work, as in his “Nine Drawings for Projection” series (1989-2003), which depicts two fictional white South Africans navigating the ambiguities of contemporary South Africa. With his highly personal and often quiet works in seeming tension with the brutality of his content, Kentridge expresses a profound ambivalence about his native country.

South African, b. 1955, Johannesburg, South Africa