We’re not going to escape our journey to the black hole, however fast we dance and run on the way. But the dance and the run are still what it’s all about. --William Kentridge
South African artist William Kentridge (b. 1955) is internationally-recognized for his film, drawing, sculpture, animation, and performance. His work addresses contentious political systems such as colonialism and apartheid through powerful allegorical imagery and theater. Kentridge gathers and transforms materials--texts, drawings, scraps of paper, sound, and myriad other media--in order to generate ideas and discover meaning. “Do the work,” he says, “then see what it is that you have made.”
The stop-motion animated film Tango for Page Turning (2012–13) is part of Kentridge’s acclaimed multimedia chamber opera Refuse the Hour. Conceived in collaboration with composer Philip Miller and choreographer Dada Masilo, the opera and related works explore the metaphysical implications of standardized world time, Einstein’s theory of relativity, black holes, and string theory.
The film opens with the tattered cover of an antiquated chemistry book. Across its turning pages, animated figures, including those of Kentridge and Masilo, splatters of ink, symbols, words and fleeting phrases dance to a stuttering score—a jumble of sung lyrics from Le Spectre de la Rose by 19th-century composer Hector Berlioz. The film appears to tremble, breathe, speed up, and slow down, reminding us of Kentridge’s painstaking animation process, and the unstable and subjective nature of time.
-Hannah Blunt, Associate Curator, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (July 2017)