Press Release – City Gallery Wellington
Giant ticking metronomes, bicycle wheels, a shadowy march of figures – South African artist William Kentridge’s stunning multi-channel video work has captivated audiences across the globe and will be shown at City Gallery Wellington from 6 September.
“A beguiling work that turns the history of science into a spectacular, sensuous feast. It will be a treat for art, film and theatre lovers alike,” says City Gallery Director Elizabeth Caldwell, The Refusal of Time combines the magic of theatre, film, sculpture, drawing, music, written word, text and dance. It’s a 30-minute, five-screen video installation that appears to be powered by a pumping, breathing, accordion-like sculpture known as ‘The Elephant’. Kentridge, South Africa’s preeminent contemporary artist, simply describes the work as ‘a piece about the nature of time’. In fact, The Refusal of Time encourages us to rethink our grasp of time, addressing different ways of understanding and measuring it (from Newton to String Theory). Combining a range of cinematic processes (animated drawing, live action and pixelated motion), the work is at times menacing and at times playful. Everything is on the move, encircling the viewer in an all-encompassing experience.
The Refusal of Time has attracted critical acclaim at venues across the world, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Acquired by major public collections such as The Met, San Francisco’s MoMA and the Art Gallery of Western Australia (who has lent it to City Gallery), it was created in 2012 for Documenta 13 (the world’s largest recurring exhibition), as a collaboration with South African composer Phillip Miller, filmmaker Catherine Meyburgh and dancer Dada Masilo.
Miller’s complex soundscape is projected through movie-set megaphones. The acclaimed composer has worked with Kentridge for over a decade and is famed for bringing together diverse musical traditions – classical, contemporary and South African folk.
In developing the work, Kentridge took cues from conversations with Harvard University science historian Peter Galison. He was interested in efforts to control or deny time – from Europe’s attempt to synchronise clocks in the 19th
century to Albert Einstein’s understanding of relativity.
A substantial programme of events will complement the exhibition, including screenings of Kentridge’s earlier films addressing racial politics in South Africa.
William Kentridge is represented by Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris.
William Kentridge: The Refusal of Time
6 September – 16 November 2014 | City Gallery Wellington
Public preview. Thursday 4 September
The public preview begins at 5pm and visitors will be greeted with a complimentary glass of bubbles or Six Barrel Soda. At 6.30pm, Sabine Theunissen, Jonas Lundquist and Gavan Eckhart, three key members of Kentridge’s team, will talk about their experiences collaborating with him and installing his work.