Saturday, March 8, 2008

Capturing the Fleeting Moments

I first saw South African artist William Kentridge's animation Felix in Exile at MOMA 7 years ago and was totally blown away. I got to revisit it on YouTube, although the video quality is not good.

William Kentridge's works are at once poetic, political and personal. He has a unique technique of making animation: he simply films a charcoal drawing as a key frame, then makes erasures and changes on the same drawing as the next frame. It's a process of constantly rewriting each existing moment, just like the evolution of history and memory. In Kentridge's own words: In the same way that there is a human act of dismembering the past there is a natural process in the terrain through erosion, growth, dilapidation that also seeks to blot out events. In South Africa this process has other dimensions. The very term ‘new South Africa’ has within it the idea of a painting over the old, the natural process of dismembering, the naturalization of things new.

Compared to Marker's La jetée which is composed of frozen moments, Kentridge's work presents a different time and space that are shivering and elusive, evoking the fading memory in an hypnotically poetic way. Another artist using paintings to make experimental animation is Jeff Scher, whose work is playful and apolitical. My favorite is You Won’t Remember This:


Anonymous said...

Wexner had an exhibition of Kentridge's work, were you there?


XENIA said...

Really?! When was that?