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  • William Kentridge

    Why Should I Hesitate: by William Kentridge – Cape Town

    The largest ever exhibition by internationally acclaimed artist William Kentridge opens in Cape Town on 24th August. This major exhibition is hosted simultaneously in two parts by the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA), which will host his multi-media works; and at Norval Foundation, which will present his sculptural works.

    Why Should I Hesitate: Putting Drawings to Work, Zeitz MOCAA

    25 August – 23 March 2020
    Curated by: Azu Nwagbogu and Tammy Langtry

    Why Should I Hesitate: Putting Drawings to Work, hosted at Zeitz MOCAA, will stage a large oeuvre of Kentridge’s 40-year career, showing works including charcoal drawings, woodcut prints, stop-frame animation, tapestries, installation and video. In addition, the exhibition will pay particular attention to the role of studio practice in Kentridge’s career.

    “When conceptualising this exhibition, we wanted to do more than simply attempt to condense many of Kentridge’s projects from his illustrious career into one space. It was vital to unpack Kentridge and reveal more of his processes and how two-dimensional forms assume life. We also wanted to offer a sort of ‘backstage’ view of the artist on his journeys and his experimentations, and sometimes at his most uncertain and vulnerable,” explains Azu Nwagbogu, curator of the exhibition.

    WK - Drawing from Felix in Exile 1994

    WK – Drawing from Felix in Exile 1994

    The exhibition title, Why Should I Hesitate, is taken from the artist’s recent opera, The Head and the Load (2018), which explores some of the paradoxes of Africa’s involvement in the First World War. This question was first posed by an African soldier who had a difficult choice: accept conscription – leaving behind the security of his home, to risk his life in a war far away from his home of which he has little knowledge – or reject conscription and face certain persecution. Read in the context of Kentridge’s studio practice, Why Should I Hesitate is, therefore, a question that stresses the importance of process over procedure or product. It is an attempt to draw out the artist’s work from the uncertainties of legend, so it can be understood within the context of our ever-changing cultural climate: an exercise that resists inertia but is necessarily framed by doubt.

    “While Kentridge remains dedicated to a South African narrative, his projects pose humanist questions of other such similar historical failures and other utopic possibilities for success. In this way, the exhibition may be viewed as a historiographic reading of the world over the last century,” adds Tammy Langtry, curator of the exhibition.
    Due to the breadth of the artists creative practice, the exhibition spans five independent spaces throughout Zeitz MOCAA – Level 3, Level 1, Centre for the Moving Image, BMW Atrium, and a nighttime projection in the Track Shed.

    WK - Invention of Africa

    WK – Invention of Africa

    It will be supported by a number of public programmes and events, including a symposium on 27 October that will bring together leading figures in the art world to extend the important dialogue and thematic concerns emanating from Kentridge’s work.

    About Zeitz MOCAA

    Zeitz MOCAA is a public not-for-profit contemporary art museum that collects, preserves, researches and exhibits 21st-century art from Africa and its diaspora; hosts international exhibitions; develops supporting educational and enrichment programmes; encourages intercultural understanding; and guarantees access for all. Galleries are dedicated to a large cutting-edge collection; special exhibitions; and Centres for Art Education, Curatorial Training, Performative Practice, Photography and the Moving Image. Zeitz MOCAA was established through a partnership between the V&A Waterfront led by CEO David Green – acting on behalf of Growthpoint Properties Limited and the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), represented by the Public Investment Corporation Limited (PIC) – and collector Jochen Zeitz. The building was reimagined through a design by the acclaimed London- based Heatherwick Studio

    For more about Zeitz MOCAA please click.

    Why Should I Hesitate: Sculpture , Norval Foundation

    24 August – 23 March 2020
    Curated by: Karel Nel, Owen Martin, Talia Naicker, Vicky Lekone

    Norval Foundation will present the first survey of internationally acclaimed artist William Kentridge’s sculptural practice, opening in Cape Town in August.

    Courtesy of Norval Foundation and by Dave Southwood

    Courtesy of Norval Foundation and by Dave Southwood

    In Why Should I Hesitate: Sculpture, visitors will encounter a range of new and historical artworks that have been produced over the last two decades, which narrate Kentridge’s engagement with three- dimensional form. Running from 24 August 2019 to 23 March 2020, Norval Foundation’s exhibition will coincide with a complimentrary exhibition Why Should I Hesitate? Pu ing Drawings To Work, at Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, which takes Kentridge’s drawing practice as its focal point.


    Why Should I Hesitate: Sculpture will be the first exhibition internationally to address Kentridge’s output as a sculptor, and is a unique focus on this aspect of his practice. Covering several bodies of work, and testifying to his longstanding improvisation when handling three-dimensional form, this exhibition sees the origins of these works in props from his operas and images from his animations stepping o the stage and out of the screen, confronting us directly at ground level. Why Should I Hesitate: Sculpture will also premiere new works commissioned for this exhibition.

    Courtesy of Norval Foundation and by Dave Southwood

    Courtesy of Norval Foundation and by Dave Southwood

    A central concern of Why Should I Hesitate: Sculpture is an understanding that Kentridge’s sculptures have agency. Kinetic sculptures make use of megaphones on survey tripods, a de nod to Russian Constructivism, and imply a propogandist’s broadcasting of an impersonal and mechanical authority. In Singer Trio (2018), for example, ‘ready-made’ sewing machines are given voices for a performance enacted in unison, their megaphones synchronised as they take on a new and humorous presence in this world.

    Courtesy of Norval Foundation and by Dave Southwood

    Courtesy of Norval Foundation and by Dave Southwood

    Many of Kentridge’s sculptures embody an animated spectacle. Proceeding through a seemingly random construction of abstract planes, as in World on its Hind Legs (2009), we see how graphic forms unexpectedly align, snapping into an organized whole which is visually and metaphorically charged. Move a li le further, and the form dissipates once again.

    Elsewhere, Kentridge’s repertoire of everyday objects and o -the-cu ideas are translated into rows of small bronze sculptures, syntactically arranged on a shelving unit to read as lines of text on a page. In Paragraph II (2018), horse, nose, jug, camera, megaphone and others, line up to seemingly make rebuses, those visual puzzles evoking words which so delighted the early Surrealists.

    Courtesy of Norval Foundation and by Dave Southwood

    Courtesy of Norval Foundation and by Dave Southwood

    Several pieces from Kentridge’s visual lexicon have been reworked into scaled-up plaster prototypes from which monumental bronze sculptures have been cast: a gigantic corkscrew, a collapsing jug of Cubist descent, a visual ourish in the form of an ampersand, and the intense presence of an enormous ciné camera – the observing alter ego of Kentridge’s prodigious output perhaps?

    Courtesy of Norval Foundation and by Dave Southwood

    Courtesy of Norval Foundation and by Dave Southwood

    The ruptured narrative, so powerfully visible in Kentridge’s work, is choreographed into serried dislocations which collide the space between the personal and the political, the operatic and the mundane, the apparently irrelevant and the socially pertinent. Approaching Kentridge’s sculptures opens us up onto a Dadaist landscape, which both challenges and beguiles.

    Courtesy of Norval Foundation and by Dave Southwood

    Courtesy of Norval Foundation and by Dave Southwood

    “Norval Foundation is presenting, for the rst time, an exhibition focused solely on William Kentridge’s sculptural practice, working in conjunction with the artist and his studio. Kentridges’ sculptures embrace a spontaneous approach and have recently evolved towards the massive, and the monumental. Simultaneously, and in tension to the monumental aspects of his practice, he is revealed to be a choreographer as much as a sculptor,”

    – Karel Nel, Senior Advising Curator, Norval Foundation.

    “Norval Foundation is proud to be hosting Why Should I Hesitate: Sculpture. A key aspect of the Foundation is our commitment to exhibiting the sculptural and installation based practices of a variety of artists, which is facilitated by our purpose-designed building. In particular, we invite artists and curators to respond to gallery eight, our largest gallery, with William Kentridge’s exhibition exemplifying this. The gallery has reinforced oors to support works that weigh as much as eight tons, and reach as high as nine metres. The monumental size of this gallery sits in an ideal contrast to the anti-monumental, spontaneous and theatrical sculptures that form part of this exhibition.”

    – Elana Brundyn, CEO, Norval Foundation.


    Why Should I Hesitate: Sculpture is accompanied by a programme of talks and performances with the artist and leading voices in the cultural sector, including a collaboration with pianist and composer Kyle Shepherd which will take place Thursday 19 September at 19:30 in Norval Foundation’s atrium. A series of member and public events will take place on the opening weekend, Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 August 2019.

    Courtesy of Norval Foundation and by Dave Southwood

    Courtesy of Norval Foundation and by Dave Southwood

    About William Kentridge

    William Kentridge is internationally acclaimed for his drawings, films, theatre and opera productions. His practice is born out of a cross-fertilisation between mediums and genres, and responds to the legacies of colonialism and apartheid. His aesthetics are drawn from the medium of lm’s own history, from stop-motion animation to early special e ects. Kentridge’s drawing, speci cally the dynamism of an erased and redrawn mark, is an integral part of his expanded animation and lmmaking practice. Kentridge’s work has been seen in museums and galleries around the world since the 1990s, including Documenta in Kassel, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Albertina Museum in Vienna, Musée du Louvre in Paris, Whitechapel Gallery in London, Louisiana Museum in Copenhagen and the Reina So a museum in Madrid. Opera productions include Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Shostakovich’s The Nose, and Alban Berg’s Lulu, and have been seen at opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera in New York; La Scala in Milan; English National Opera in London; Opera de Lyon, France; Amsterdam Opera, The Netherlands, amongst others. Summer 2017 saw the premiere of Kentridge’s production of Berg’s Wozzeck for the Salzburg Festival. The Head & the Load, sometimes described as a processional opera (with original music by composers Philip Miller and Thuthuka Sibisi), opened to critical acclaim in London and New York in 2018. Kentridge is the recipient of honorary doctorates from several universities including Yale and the University of London, and in 2012 he presented the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University. In 2010, he received the Kyoto Prize. In 2015 he was appointed an Honorary Academician of the Royal Academy in London. In 2017, he received the Princesa de Asturias Award for the Arts, and in 2018, the Antonio Feltrinelli International Prize

    Courtesy of Norval Foundation and by Dave Southwood

    Courtesy of Norval Foundation and by Dave Southwood

    About Norval Foundation

    Norval Foundation is a centre for art and cultural expression, dedicated to the research and exhibition of 20th and 21st century visual art from South Africa and beyond. Located in the Steenberg area of Cape Town, adjacent to Table Mountain National Park, Norval Foundation combines the experience of art with an appreciation for nature. The Sculpture Garden, outdoor amphitheatre, purpose-built exhibition spaces and research library
are situated in a unique se ing that o ers visitors a multisensory experience. This is complemented by The Skotnes Restaurant and Bar, a bespoke shop and a children’s playground. Norval Foundation aims to create high-quality exhibitions and public programming to broaden our understanding of the visual arts. Norval Foundation is honoured to be the custodian of the Gerard Sekoto Foundation, the Edoardo Villa Estate Collection and the Alexis Preller Archive. Norval Foundation supports the belief that art has the power to enrich our lives and that artists contribute to our communities in a profound way. The Norval family are the founders and initial funders of Norval Foundation and their aim is to make art widely accessible.

    For more about Norval Foundation please click.