William Kentridge

Felix in Exile, 1994

Kentridge makes short animation films from large-scale drawings in charcoal and pastel on paper. Each drawing, which contains a single scene, is successively altered through erasing and redrawing and photographed in 16 or 35mm film at each stage of its evolution. Remnants of successive stages remain on the paper, and provide a metaphor for the layering of memory which is one of Kentridge’s principal themes. The films in this series, titled Drawings for Projection (see Tate T07482-5 and T07480-81), are set in the devastated landscape south of Johannesburg where derelict mines and factories, mine dumps and slime dams have created a terrain of nostalgia and loss. Kentridge’s repeated erasure and redrawing, which leave marks without completely transforming the image, together with the jerky movement of the animation, operate in parallel with his depiction of human processes, both physical and political, enacted on the landscape.

Felix in Exile is Kentridge’s fifth film. It was made from forty drawings and is accompanied by music by Phillip Miller and Motsumi Makhene. It introduces a new character to the series: Nandi, an African woman, who appears at the beginning of the film making drawings of the landscape. She observes the land with surveyor’s instruments, watching African bodies, with bleeding wounds, which melt into the landscape. She is recording the evidence of violence and massacre that is part of South Africa’s recent history. Felix Teitelbaum, who features in Kentridge’s first and fourth films as the humane and loving alter-ego to the ruthless capitalist white South African psyche, appears here semi-naked and alone in a foreign hotel room, brooding over Nandi’s drawings of the damaged African landscape, which cover his suitcase and walls. Felix looks at himself in the mirror while shaving and Nandi appears to him. They are connected to one another, through the mirror, by a double-ended telescope and embrace, but Nandi is later shot and absorbed back into the ground like the bodies she was observing earlier. A flood of blue water in the hotel room, brought about by the process of painful remembering, symbolises tears of grief and loss and the Biblical flood which promises new life. Kentridge has commented: ‘Felix in Exile was made at the time just before the first general election in South Africa, and questioned the way in which the people who had died on the journey to this new dispensation would be remembered’ (William Kentridge 1998, p.90). In this film Nandi’s drawing could be read as an attempt to construct a new national identity through the preservation, rather than erasure, of brutal and racist colonial memory.

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/kentridge-felix-in-exile-t07479

Episode #100: With his video “History of the Main Complaint” (1996) serving as a backdrop, William Kentridge discusses how artists draw upon tragedy as subject matter for their work and how drawing itself can be a compassionate act.

Having witnessed first-hand one of the twentieth centurys most contentious struggles—the dissolution of apartheid—William Kentridge brings the ambiguity and subtlety of personal experience to public subjects most often framed in narrowly defined terms. Using film, drawing, sculpture, animation, and performance, he transmutes sobering political events into powerful poetic allegories. Aware of myriad ways in which we construct the world by looking, Kentridge often uses optical illusions to extend his drawings-in-time into three dimensions.

Learn more about William Kentridge at: http://www.art21.org/artists/william-kentridge

VIDEO | Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera: Bob Elfstrom. Sound: Ray Day. Editor: Paulo Padilha. Artwork Courtesy: William Kentridge.


Episode #094: Shot in his Johannesburg studio in South Africa, William Kentridge reveals the process and unusual presentation of the video work “Return” — a component of the larger project “(REPEAT) from the beginning / Da Capo” (2008) — which had its debut on the fire screen of Teatro La Fenice opera house in Venice, Italy.

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Whitfield Lovell

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Whitfield Lovell is an artist whose poetic and intricately crafted tableaux and installations document and pay tribute to the passage of time and to the daily lives of anonymous African-Americans. Inspired by images from his archive of photographs, tintypes, and old postcards from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of the civil rights movement, Lovell provides these obscure figures with identity and dignity. He creates meticulously rendered, life-sized, charcoal portraits on such wooden objects as sections of walls, fences, or barrels, evoking a haunting sense of their presence. He places these portraits in the context of found, everyday objects — including frying pans, spinning wheels, bed frames, clocks, irons, and musical instruments — to reveal the individual through items related to his or her life. These compelling and seemingly simple installations are informed by contemporary art practice as well as folk art, vernacular art, and the physical conditions of marginalized communities. Creating remarkably elegant works, Lovell evokes memories of the past while transcending the specifics of time and space.

Whitfield Lovell received a B.F.A. (1981) from the Cooper Union School of Art. He taught at the School of Visual Arts in New York from 1987 to 2001 and has been a visiting artist at such institutions as Rice University (1995), the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2001), and the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia (2002). Lovell’s work has appeared in numerous solo and group exhibitions at national venues such as the Seattle Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Kin IX (To Make Your False Heart True), 2008 Conte on paper, sterling silver canteen 30 x 22 1/2 x 1 3/4 inches

Kin IX (To Make Your False Heart True), 2008
Conte on paper, sterling silver canteen
30 x 22 1/2 x 1 3/4 inches

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– See more at: http://www.macfound.org

Vik Muniz: Art with wire, sugar, chocolate and string

Brazilian-born, Brooklyn-based fine artist Vik Muniz has exhibited his work all over the world. Using unexpected materials to create portraits, landscapes and still lifes — which he then photographs — he delights in subverting a viewer’s expectations.

Why you should listen to him:
Because he’s self-effacing, frankly open and thought-provoking, all at the same time. Vik Muniz’s explorations into the power of representation and his masterful use of unexpected materials such as chocolate syrup, toy soldiers and paper confetti mean that his resulting images transcend mere gimmickry.

Muniz is often hailed as a master illusionist, but he says he’s not interested in fooling people. Rather, he wants his images to show people a measure of their own belief. Muniz has exhibited his playfully provocative work in galleries all over the world and was recently featured in a documentary entitled “Waste Land,” screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. The film follows Muniz around the largest garbage dump in Rio de Janeiro, as he photographs the collectors of recycled materials in which he finds inspiration and beauty. Describing the history of photography as “the history of blindness,” his images simply but powerfully remind a viewer of what it means to see, and how our preconceptions can color every experience.

http://www.vikmuniz.net

Francesca Woodman (1958-1981)

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Francesca Woodman, Space2, Providence, Rhode Island, 1976
Gelatin silver print, 13.7 x 13.3 cm

At the age of thirteen Francesca Woodman took her first self-portrait. From then, up until her untimely death in 1981, aged just 22 she produced an extraordinary body of work (some 800 photographs) acclaimed for its singularity of style and range of innovative techniques. Woodman studied at Rhode Island School of Design, from 1975 – 1979, receiving a grant to spend a year in Rome to continue her studies. Whilst there she produced an extensive body of work and had her first solo exhibition at a bookshop and gallery specializing in Surrealism and Futurism.

Since 1986, her work has been exhibited widely and has been the subject of extensive critical study in the United States and Europe. Woodman is often situated alongside her contemporaries of the late 1970s such as Ana Mendieta and Hannah Wilke, yet her work also foreshadows artists such as Cindy Sherman, Sarah Lucas, Nan Goldin and Karen Finley in their subsequent dialogues with the self and reinterpretations of the female body.

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Born in 1958 in Denver, Colorado, Francesca Woodman lived and worked in New York and Italy until her death in 1981. Since 1986 her work has been exhibited widely. Significant solo presentations of Woodman’s work include Francesca Woodman at the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco (2011-12), which subsequently toured to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2012); Francesca Woodman: Retrospective at the Sala Espacio AV, Murcia, touring to SMS Contemporanea, Siena (both 2009); Francesca Woodman: Photographs at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York (2003) and Francesca Woodman at the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Paris (1998), which subsequently toured to Kunsthal, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (1998); Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon, Portugal (1999); The Photographers’ Gallery, London (1999); Centro Cultural TeclaSala, L’Hospitalet, Barcelona (1999-2000); Carla Sozzani Gallery, Milan, (2001); The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2001) and PhotoEspana, Centro Cultural Conde Duque, Madrid (2002). Woodman’s work is represented in the collections of major museums including The Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Whitney Museum of American Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Detroit Institute of Arts; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and Tate/National Galleries of Scotland.

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http://www.victoria-miro.com

Zelig

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Zel·ig
/ˈzeliɡ/
noun, NORTH AMERICAN

a person who is able to change their appearance, behavior, or attitudes, so as to be comfortable in any situation.

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Zelig is a 1983 American mockumentary film written and directed by Woody Allen and starring Allen and Mia Farrow. Allen plays Leonard Zelig, a nondescript enigma who, out of his desire to fit in and be liked, takes on the characteristics of strong personalities around him. The film, presented as a documentary, recounts Zelig’s intense period of celebrity in the 1920s and includes analyses from present day intellectuals.

The film was photographed and narrated in the style of 1920s black-and-white newsreels, which are interwoven with archival footage from the era, and re-enactments of real historical events. Color segments from the present day include interviews of real and fictional personages, including Saul Bellow and Susan Sontag.