Kentridge's meditation on the nature of time

After wowing audiences around the world, "The Refusal of Time" comes to Iziko South African National Gallery, in association with the Goodman Gallery.

William Kentridge’s meditation on the nature of time, the acclaimed exhibition The Refusal of Time, travels to Cape Town in February for an extended run at Iziko South African National Gallery.

In association with the Goodman Gallery, this multifaceted installation runs from 20 February to 21 June 2015.

The Refusal of Time combines film, sound and mechanical sculpture in an immersive 30-minute experience that explores the notion of time. It was recently jointly acquired by the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

The installation also has a theatrical accompaniment. The chamber opera Refuse the Hour will be presented by Design Indaba at the Cape Town City Hall for three nights only. The chamber opera features the artist as actor along with twelve other performers. The production is an extension of his collaboration with Philip Miller, Dada Masilo, Peter Galison and Catherine Meyburgh.

This is the first time that Iziko South African National Gallery will host a Kentridge installation. The large-scale video installation was first shown at Documenta (13) in 2012 and has since been seen in Japan, Italy, Australia, the United States, Brazil, Holland and Finland. Most recently, it was exhibited at Johannesburg Art Gallery. Image: © William Kentridge.
The Refusal of Time was conceptualised and made in a series of workshops over the course of two years. It started as a series of conversations between William Kentridge and Peter Galison, the Joseph Pellegrino University Professor in History of Science and Physics at Harvard University. The exhibition looks at different theories of time from Newtown through to Einstein and black holes, in each case finding the metaphor for the science rather than trying to illustrate it. Image: © William Kentridge.
In a review in The New York Times, Holland Cotter writes: “Everything’s on the move in the mini power plant that is William Kentridge’s The Refusal of Time. In projected videos by Mr. Kentridge and Catherine Meyburgh, metronomes pound away like a grim marching band. Hands on clock faces spin, spewing trails of stars. Drawings erase themselves. Maps of Africa appear and disappear. In a laboratory filled with what look like giant watch springs, white-coated figures mix potions to the beat of a tuba-intensive score by Philip Miller. At the center of the theatre-like installation, a real machine, a wooden contraption with pumping pistons, seems to function as a generator for the entire piece.” Image: © William Kentridge.
At the center of the installation is a moving sculpture—the “breathing machine” or “elephant”—an organ-like automaton with a pumping bellows. Integral to the installation is a soundscape designed by South African composer Philip Miller. It combines a musical score with spoken text, which is emitted through four megaphones placed throughout the room. Miller has collaborated extensively with Kentridge, creating the soundtracks to his previous productions Black Box/Chambre Noir and 9 Drawings for Projection. He has composed scores for many local and international film and television productions, including The Bang Bang Club, HBO’s The Girl and BBC’s The Borrowers. Image: © William Kentridge.
One of South Africa’s most acclaimed choreographers, Dada Masilo collaborated on and performs in Refuse The Hour. Masilo has developed a signature dance style that melds classical ballet with African dance in high-speed performances. Her interpretations of Carmen, Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake have toured worldwide. She reimagined the latter as a South African story, addressing the issues of gender and homophobia using a company of 13 male and female African dancers. Image: © William Kentridge. For more information on The Refusal of Time click here. To book tickets to Refuse The Hour, click here.

Watch the Talk with William Kentridge