Unreal Nature

December 12, 2015

The Apparatus of Making

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:46 am

… ‘demasking’ of the illusion, the exposing of the gap between the play and the real, is important to Kentridge.

This is from the essay ‘William Kentridge: A Reanimated Artist’ by Kate McCrickard found in William Kentridge: Fortuna edited by Lilian Tone (2013):

Kentridge is nurturing a growing cast of personae and animated objects that emerge through the work with puppets, and which populate his stages in serial repetitions. These oddball commedia dell’arte characters might be described as leitmotifs that appear vignetted, in processions that have no destination, and in crowds, protean and never stale. They make impassive appearances; they do not perform actively, nor do they fulfill specific functions. When they process, they trail each other in never-ending circles and shambolic friezes, like tattered ghosts on celestial cupola frescoes.

Kentridge ‘migrates’ his favorite objects through varied media, generating unanticipated transformations: a jump from torn paper to bronze introduces new readings; the language of one medium informs another. The feeling is of a porous studio in which images percolate over time, are pulled back and forth or ‘cut loose from a subject.’

[line break added to make this easier to read online] For example, the armless ambulatory figure that is flattened into a silhouette in the collage book Portage has a megaphone growing out of the space where his head once was. He treads even more heavily when blown up into a giant porter for a tapestry or cast in hard bronze for free-standing sculptures.


… They make their technology visible like the charcoal pentimenti present in the Drawings for Projection, the puppeteers that Kentridge leaves ‘uncloaked’ in his work with Handspring Puppet Company, and the jointing and patching visible on the verso sides of his processing sculptures. This ‘demasking’ of the illusion, the exposing of the gap between the play and the real, is important to Kentridge.

[line break added] The apparatus of making is a definite subject in his work, one that Kentridge skillfully describes as , ‘… not the traditional view of a willing suspension of disbelief; it’s much stronger, more like an unwilling suspension of belief. It’s the fact that my need to construct things as sense-making objects … is much stronger than a conscious, rational decision of how one is going to understand things. … Look at the pleasure you get from allowing yourself to be deceived.’




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