William Kentridge at Holland Festival 2012 - some questions
Kunst, 29 May 2012 - redactie Africaserver Magazine
foto: John Hodgkiss

South African artist William Kentridge returns at Holland Festival 2012 with the world première of his latest chamber opera Refuse the hour. Kentridge is well known for his 2D keyframing animations, in which he makes the animations within one single key frame. His use of layers and his resistance to the linearity of time in his animations can also be found in his operas. In Refuse the hour, Kentridge combines dance and live music with some strange machines and projections of his own animations, which are mixed with live projections of the performance itself, creating a world in which time does not adhere to the laws of nature, but rather to the laws of Kentridge.
Africaserver Magazine had a short interview with South Africa's best known artist.
Africaserver Magazine (ASM): Three years ago, two months before the Holland festival 2009, I asked Brett Bailey if his next step would be towards opera. You studied politics, then etching and finally (in Paris) mime and theatre. You started theatre projects already in 1992 with the Handspring Puppet Company. In Refuse the Hour (your play at this years Holland Festival) you again bring together animations, live music, dance, and installations in the performance. What brought you to this interest in combining visual and performing arts?

William Kentridge (WK):
There are several answers. First, biography. From high school through my time as a student at university and after, I had a dual interest in theatre and performance, and image-making. For a while I tried to separate them, thinking one had to concentrate on a particular field to master it. But I abandoned this purity fairly early on, when I understood the only hope for the work was the migration of ideas and images from one medium into another – etching into film, drawing into theatre, from theatre back into sculpture. I rely on the demands of each medium to provoke new images in other mediums. A kinetic sculpture can be the impulse for a dance. A monologue can be the provocation for a linocut.

ASM: Occasionally you have stated that you are interested in a political art. You also have said that you never tried to make illustrations of apartheid. However, your work is often “ spawned by, and fed off, the brutalised society left in its wake”. Does that account for your theatre work as well?

WK: Yes.

ASM: How have visual arts on the one hand and theatre and theatre making on the other changed after Apartheid collapsed in South Africa? And why do you think so many young South African artists nowadays show such high quality and are attracting so much attention?

WK: The ending of the Afrikaner Nationalist government was not the end of politics in the country. It is better understood as the end of anti-apartheid than the end of apartheid - which still continues in many ways throughout the country. Continuing inequalities, injustices, new contradictions in the society, are strong provocation for artists and theatre makers - who of necessity have to make sense of their lives and their world.
The big change which followed the transformation in SA, in terms of art and theatre was that, the ending of the isolation of artists from SA. Ironically, this isolation during the apartheid years enabled a lot of work to develop on its own terms – this came from the very fact that it was not part of an international conversation. Now that we are part of a globalised art-mixture, it becomes harder for artists to find their own voice. But we are all still touched by the extraordinary and always surprising crises and contradictions we live in. The energy of a society threatening to fall apart, but still holding, must come through in music, theatre, and images.
Azim Koning
Refuse the Hour will be performed at Frascati Theatre in Amsterdam on 18 and 19 June 2012 (at 8.30 pm). Both performances are sold out. An extra show on 17 June is planned.
Holland Festival - Refuse the Hour
Frascati - Refuse the Hour (in Dutch)

William Kentridge (1955) is an artist and theatre maker from South-Africa, whose work is permeated by political interest. In 1976 he graduated in Politics and African Studies at the University of Witwatersrand. Between 1976 and 1978 he studied at the Johannesburg Art Foundation, where he subsequently taught for two years. In 1981 and 1982 he studied mime and theatre at the École Jacques Lecoq in Paris. He was one of the founders of the Junction Avenue Theatre Company in Johannesburg. In 1989 he made his first animation, entitled Johannesburg, 2nd Greatest City After Paris. In the years following he made 8 more films that accompany the end of the apartheid system, the first elections and the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in trying to show the complex tensions in a postcolonial memory, including Felix in Exile, Ubu Tells the Truth and Automatic Writing. His animated films are characterised by their keyframing technique, which gives them a sense of the passing of time, expressing a notion of things that are left unsaid, but can easily be felt.
In 1992, Kentridge produced his first theatre project Woyzeck on the Highveld, a collaboration with the Handspring Puppet Company. He directed a well-received production of Mozart’s Magic Flute in BAM in 2007. For this performance he also designed the sets and costumes. In 2010 Kentridge played the Metropolitan Opera in New York with a radical vision of Dmitri Shostakovich’s opera The Nose. Later that year the Holland Festival in collaboration with the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam presented a short, multimedia performance entitled Telegrams from the Nose. Since his participation at Documenta X in Kassel in 1997 Kentridge’s work has been shown at (solo) exhibitions all over the world. The charcoal drawings of his animations are very popular in the art world, especially in the United States. In 1999 and 2004 Kentridge received the Carnegie Medal. In 2010 he received the prestigious Kyoto Prize.

Philip Miller is a South African composer based in Johannesburg. Born in 1964, he first practiced law before establishing a career in music. His work is not easily categorized, often developing out of collaborative projects in theatre, film and video.
One of his most significant collaborators is the internationally acclaimed artist, William Kentridge. His music to Kentridgeʼs animated films, and multimedia installations, has been heard in some of the most prestigious museums and galleries all over the world, including MoMA, SFMOMA, The Guggenheim Museums (both New York and Berlin) La Fenice Opera House and the Tate Modern.
Out of this collaboration the live concert series Nine Drawings for Projection and Sounds from the Black Box has evolved, touring Australia, the UK, Germany, Italy, Belgium, France and the US.
In 2007 Miller conceived and composed Rewind, a Cantata for voice, tape and testimony, an award-winning choral work, based on the testimonies of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. The cantata had its international debut in New York at the Celebrate Brooklyn Festival and has been performed at the Williams College 62 Centre for Theatre and Dance, the Market Theatre, Johannesburg, and the Royal Festival Hall, London.
In 2008, Millerʼs sound installation Special Boy was selected as a finalist for Spier Contemporary, a major, national art exhibition in South Africa. Amongst his more recent commissions, Millerʼs composition Can you hear that? was performed for the New York based Ensemble Pi in 2009.
He has released many CDs of his music which include: Rewind, a Cantata for voice, tape and testimony, William Kentridgesʼ Nine Drawings for Projection, Black Box/ Chambre Noire, The Thula Project, African Soundscapes and Shona Malanga.

Dada Masilo is one of the newest and brightest stars on the South African dance scene. Having won the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Dance in 2008, Masilo is fast becoming one of South Africaʼs most celebrated young dancers and choreographers.
She is a contemporary dancer, who has a deep love for the classics – from Shakespeare to Tchaikovsky, from ballet to flamenco.
As a dancer, she has impressed audiences and critics alike with her “signature speed” – her ability to move like greased lightening – as well as her ability to imbue her roles with a precocious theatricality.
As a choreographer she has embraced the “big” stories, boldly fusing dance techniques, while musically mixing the original scores with the work of twentieth century composers.

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Sites bij dit artikel:
Holland Festival 2012 - Refuse the Hour

Theater Frascati - Refuse the Hour

AVRO Close Up: William Kentridge - Anything is possible

Rob Perrée - profiel van William Kentridge

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