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December 2013


William Kentridge | Vertical Thinking

Posted November 29, 2012 by artBahrain in Museums

curated by Giulia Ferracci | MAXXI Arte
until 3 march 2013 

William Kenntridge, The Refusal of Time, 2012, 5-channel projections with megaphones and a breathing machine (elephant), c. 24 min


MAXXI Arte, directed by Anna Mattirolo, presents William Kentridge. Vertical Thinking. The exhibition, curated by Giulia Ferracci, revolves around the installation The Refusal of Time, created for Documenta 13 at Kassel and presented for the first time in Italy at MAXXI. Reconfigured for the spaces of the museum’s Gallery 5, the powerful, embracing and evocative installation is an explosion of sound, images and shadows with at the centre a pulsing Leonardesque machine.

The work was born out of a lengthy reflection on the concept of time developed by Kentridge together with the physicist and historian of science Peter L. Galison. It has been produced in collaboration with the composer Philip Miller and with Catherine Meyburgh for the video processing and editing. The enthralling and eclectic South African dancer and choreographer Dada Masilo has curated the choreographies.
The point of departure is the idea of “standardised time”, the way in which every day humanity measures time while losing any awareness that it is merely a convention. The work references the atmosphere of the 19th Century when increasing industrialisation led to a need to synchronize one’s personal time with that of millions of other individuals. The reflection on time accompanies that on the traversing of the earth, following the various time zones and the times of sunrises and sunsets.

With The Refusal of Time, Kentridge has realised a grandiose piece: animated films with five-channel synchronus projections into which flow the magic of theatre, drawing, music, dance and film in a commingling and wealth of idioms typical of his works. In the films, shadow dancers interact with various instruments that reference the measuring of time: cylindrical megaphones, wheels, 19th Century clocks orchestrated by giant metronomes projected on the walls.

The spectator is completely immersed in the story which is both epic and fable-like and in which the shadows of the dancers chase one another and the artist himself appears and disappears through the space of imaginary maps.

Also on show at MAXXI are 14 previously unseen silk-screen prints, including Vertical Thinking which provided the title for the exhibition. Then there are the preparatory sketches for The Refusal of Time, a maquette of the set for Refuse the Hour and six works from the MAXXI Arte permanent collection, the museum’s pulsing heart. Among these, on show for the first time: Flagellant, 1996-1997, freely inspired by Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi, a reflection on the theme of apartheid, Cemetery with Cypresses, 1998, inspired by Il ritorno di Ulisse by Claudio Monteverdi which sets the return of the Aechean hero in a Johannesburg hospital, Untitled (Large Drawing – Standing Man) from 2001 and the video Zeno Writing from 2002, inspired by Italo Svevo’s famous character. Also on show are the great tapestry North Pole Map from 2003 that evokes the journey of life and the crossing of borders and the installation Preparing the Flute from 2004-2005, a model theatre that includes music and themes taken from Mozart’s Magic Flute.

The exhibition Vertical Thinking is part of the KENTRIDGE IN ROME project, realised in synergy by MAXXI, Fondazione Romaeuropa and Teatro di Roma to pay tribute to the great artist and to create an extraordinary opportunity to explore his unmistakeable, complex and original work. As well as the exhibition at MAXXI, the project provides for the Italian debut of the show Refuse the Hour at the Teatro Argentina from 15 to 18 November within in the ambit of the Romaeuropa Festival 2012, in coproduction with Teatro di Roma. A “chamber piece” with extravagant machinery and the on-stage presence of the artist himself. | |

The exhibition William Kentridge Vertical Thinking has been realized with the contribution of the Chamber of Commerce of Rome. With thanks to Galleria Lia Rumma.

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