Gallery Visit: William Kentridge

I have so little time at the moment and am looking forward to having these busy few days come to an end. So I am quickly writing this brief post about William Kentridges’ video here and what he says about “using other people’s pain as raw material for work” or as he describes it, “an appropriation of other people’s distress”. He says he hopes that spending time with it redeems the artist from exploitation. I suspect it does in some cases and but not in all. Certainly, having seen his exhibition today at the Whitechapel, he succeeds. I will need to write about the show later but I did find myself wondering again about moving image and my past experience as an actor, and feeling immensely limited by still images alone. It’s something I have been wondering about for a while but switching over to a Moving Image pathway with the OCA is not as simple as it might sound. I am also someone who has the urge to change and move and walk away from things so I have to be mindful of that and think about whether my habitual impulses are driving the desire to move on, or if it’s a genuine and relevant need to make the sort of work I envisage doing . I also know I can continue to concentrate on still images and make use of technology creatively.

Going back to pain though, I have long wondered about the moral implications of using pain to create art and certainly there is something very worrying about it. But Kentridge makes something so extraordinarily magical with pain, he transforms it, as well as communicating about it in a way that is breathtakingly beautiful. The Refusal of Time is perhaps the most thrilling thing I’ve ever seen and will describe it when I write a proper account.


William Kentridge


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