Never before seen in New Zealand, City Gallery is excited to be hosting William Kentridge's work The Refusal of Time. Combining the magic of theatre, film, sculpture, drawing, music and dance, the thirty-minute five-channel video installation addresses the elusive nature of time, and our political and personal efforts to control or deny it. The Refusal of Time is the South African artist's most moving and spectacular work to date.
This must-see immersive experience seems to be powered by a pumping, breathing, accordion-like sculpture in the middle of the room – The Elephant. The Refusal of Time addresses different ways of understanding and measuring time (from Newton to String Theory) and combines different cinematic processes (animated drawing, live action and pixelated motion). Footage includes giant ticking metronomes, bicycle wheels, the artist clambering over chairs and a shadowy march of figures that carry and haul all manner of items including a bathtub. Walking in file and hunched over, the melancholic procession moves from screen to screen eventually encircling the viewer with their cargo.
William Kentridge was born in 1955 in Johannesburg, where he continues to live. His work draws on the history of art and the histories of the world as well as his personal experiences of apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. One of the most compelling and acclaimed artists of our time, Kentridge has become recognised for his unique, diverse and prolific artistic practice which includes the production of animated films, drawings, sculpture and tapestries, as well as theatre works and operas. His work combines visually seductive imagery with probing explorations of the interwoven and often painful histories of science, humanism, colonialism and globalisation. In 2010, Kentridge directed a new production of Dmitri Shostakovich's The Nose at the Metropolitan Opera which was widely praised by critics and also won acclaim for his 2005 production of Mozart's The Magic Flute.
The Refusal of Time developed out of conversations between Kentridge and Harvard University science historian Peter Galison about the way science is riddled with poetic metaphors. It was made for Documenta 13 in 2012, in collaboration with South African filmmaker Catherine Meyburgh, composer Philip Miller and dancer Dada Masilo. Miller, who has been working with Kentridge for over a decade, is famed for synthesising diverse musical traditions, including classical music, modern atonal music and South African folk music. His soundscape is rich in menacing tuba drones, breathing sounds, early 20th century songs, and the ghostly voices of shortwave Numbers Stations. The soundtrack is projected through looming, old-fashioned, movie-set megaphones.
The Refusal of Time has been acquired by major public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, San Francisco MoMA, and the Art Gallery of Western Australia in Perth (who has lent it to City Gallery). It was recently shown at the Metropolitan, and featured in the 2014 Perth International Arts Festival. Kentridge has been the subject of numerous exhibitions, including the retrospective William Kentridge: Five Themes at Museum of Modern Art, New York (which travelled extensively through the United States, Europe, and Israel from 2009 to 2012); and shows at the Jeu de Paume, Paris (2010), the Albertina Museum, Vienna (2010), and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2009). His work has also been exhibited in major international exhibitions, including Documenta 10 and 11 (1997 and 2002), and the 1993, 1999, and 2005 Venice Biennales.
Awards include the Carnegie Prize (1999), Kaiserring Kunstpreis der Stadt Goslar (2003), Oskar-Kokoschka-Preis (2008), and 26th Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy (2010). He has received honorary doctorates from the Royal College of Art, London (2010), Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa (2008), and the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (2004).
William Kentridge is represented by Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris. The Refusal of Time is on loan from the State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia (purchased through the Tomorrow Fund, Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation, 2013).
- Read about The Refusal of Time at the Metroplitan Museum in New York
- Metropolitan Museum Singled Out for Curatorial Achievement in Time-Based Media
- Watch an interview with William Kentridge at Documenta 2013
- A blog about The Refusal of Time at the Perth Festival
- City Gallery Media Release
- An interview with William Kentridge in Art News New Zealand, Spring 2014
- Come to the September Tuatara Open Late and be the first in NZ to see The Refusal of Time
- City Gallery Event: William Kentridge's 'Drawings for Projection'
- Kim Hill interviews William Kentridge on National Radio
- Throughout the exhibition season, the documentary 'Art 21: William Kentridge - Anything is Possible' will screen in the Hancock Gallery
- Meet 'The Refusal of Time' sound designer Gavan Eckhart on our blog
- See some of the photos from the opening night of 'The Refusal of Time' at Tuatara Open Late'
- Listen to an interview with composer Phillip Miller on Radio NZ's Upbeat
- Watch some of 'The Refusal of Time' via our live stream on the opening night
- Event: Drawings for Projection
- Event: Tuatara Open Late
- Event: Ubu Tells the Truth
- Lecture: Paradox and Politics
- On the Blog: Jim Barr on Kentridge
- From CIRCUIT: Mark Amery and panellists Thomasin Sleigh and Martin Patrick discuss The Refusal of Time.
- Eye Contact review by Mark Amery