A Mesmerising Exploration of Time at City Gallery

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Media Release: July, 2014. 

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 soon be shown in New Zealand, 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,
“A major coup for City Gallery and New Zealand.”

The Refusal of Time combines the magic of theatre, film, sculpture, drawing, music, written word, text and dance.  It’s a 30-minute, five-channel 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
www.citygallery.org.nz/exhibitions/william-kentridge-refusal-time
For all media enquiries and images, please contact Olivia Lacey
Olivia.Lacey@wmt.org.nz | T 04  801 4258 021  M 02240312                                                          

More information on William Kentridge

Born in 1955 in Johannesburg, where he lives and work, William Kentridge draws on the history of art and the histories of the world as well as his own 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 art which includes animated films, drawings, sculpture, and tapestries as well as opera and theatre works. His work combines visually seductive imagery with probing explorations of the interwoven and often 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.

Kentridge has been the subject of numerous exhibitions, including the retrospective  Five Themes at Museum of Modern Art (2010), which travelled extensively in the United States, Europe, and Israel from 2009 to 2012; 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 such as Documenta 11 (2002) and Documenta 10 (1997) and the Venice Biennale in 2005, 1999, and 1993.