The Broad presents a special exhibition William Kentridge: In Praise of Shadows, running from November 12, 2022, to April 9, 2023. This landmark William Kentridge exhibition will be the artist’s first monograph presentation at the museum and his first major exhibition in Los Angeles in two decades.
The William Kentridge exhibition opening also marks the world theatrical premiere of the performance Houseboy, a production of the Centre for the Less Good Idea in Johannesburg, at REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater) in downtown Los Angeles.
Surveying 35 years of the celebrated South African artist’s practice, William Kentridge: In Praise of Shadows will feature more than 130 works in an engaging and interactive design by Belgian designer Sabine Theunissen. Tickets to the exhibition and performances will be available on September 4, 2022 at thebroad.org.
Born in Johannesburg in 1955 and living there his entire life, Kentridge has dedicated much of his five-decade-long career to creating works that explore the social and political conditions of his home country’s transition from Apartheid to democracy. Spanning his well-known charcoal drawings and animated films to prints, bronze sculptures, tapestries, and theater models, the exhibition will use the paradoxes of light and shadow to directly engage with the aftermath of colonialism, the recording and memory of historical narratives, and how the artist’s studio can disrupt the certainties of long-held belief systems. The exhibition will coincide with the release of a catalogue published by the museum in collaboration with DelMonico Books and will feature essays and interviews by William Kentridge, Ann McCoy, Zakes Mda, Walter Murch, and The Broad’s Curator Ed Schad.
“For decades, William Kentridge has looked at history–who writes it, what gets recorded by it, and what about it allocates power inside of societies–with an eye towards de-centering and unsettling what we think we know,” The Broad Founding Director Joanne Heyler said. “His viewpoint comes from the important and vital story of South Africa’s struggle for democracy, and it is a viewpoint that is able to look out at the wider world in an effort to show how fragile and ongoing that struggle remains.”
For the William Kentridge exhibition in Los Angeles, all 18 works from the Broad collection will join substantial loans from across the United States and South Africa. Organized both thematically and chronologically throughout the museum’s first-floor galleries, a highlight of the exhibition will be The Broad collection’s 30-minute five-channel video installation The Refusal of Time (2012).
One of Kentridge’s most celebrated, complex, and immersive works, incorporating elements of sound, sculpture, and moving image, The Refusal of Time is a rich contemplation on colonization and the standardization of time imposed by European interests on the rest of the world. At the core of the installation is a breathing machine the artist refers to as the “elephant” with rhythmic moving bellows, referencing the Dickens’ novel Hard Times, in which machines move “like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness.”
“The work of William Kentridge is a celebration of making, grounded in the cultural fabric of Johannesburg,” The Broad Curator Ed Schad said. “One encounters South African voices and histories, which are turned outwards to look at the wider world. In Kentridge’s collaborations, one feels the richness and energy of a workshop spirt which is defined by openness to unusual ideas, off-kilter points of view, and material disruptions which upends what we think we know.”
In addition to key drawings, sculptures, prints, and tapestries, the artist’s 11 Drawings for Projection films will be on view, as well as a series of films that reflect on early cinema, including 7 Fragments for Georges Méliès, Day for Night, and Journey to the Moon (all 2003), a suite of nine short films that prominently feature the artist himself and celebrate the artist’s studio as a site of experimentation and associative play. Many recent drawings will be shown that were created for his monumental performance project The Head & the Load (2018), which unearth the neglected histories of Africans and Africa in World War I. Earlier works such as Art in a State of Grace, Art in a State of Hope, Art in a State of Siege (all 1988), and early films like Monument (1990) and Mine (1991), show Kentridge’s long-lasting political engagement, upholding artistry and the creative act as its own form of transformative knowledge.
Theatrical Presentation of Houseboy
The Broad, REDCAT, and Marian Goodman Projects will co-present the international debut of Kentridge’s durational performance Houseboy, workshopped and presented only to a small audience in Johannesburg. Based upon the 1956 novel by Cameroonian diplomat Ferdinand Oyono, the 120-minute-long performance explores themes of historical participation, archival memory, and post-colonial identity.
This performance uses the protagonist’s diary and personal experiences as source material for the narrative, and a large charcoal drawn by Kentridge serves as the theatrical backdrop and features South African performers. Accompanied by live music and percussion, Kentridge’s staged interpretation of Oyono’s novel creates an immersive, multi-media experience that muses on agency and trauma and directly folds into the artist’s multidisciplinary practice on view at The Broad. H
Houseboy explores and contextualizes the work of William Kentridge and The Centre for The Less Good Idea. In 2016, Kentridge founded the Centre for Less Good Idea in Johannesburg, a space for responsive thinking and making through experimental, collaborative, and cross-disciplinary arts practices. The center hosts an ongoing program of workshops, public performances, and mentorship activities.
About the Artist
For decades, William Kentridge (born 1955) has anchored his studio practice in charcoal drawing, moving from an associative and improvisational handling of images on paper into film, sculpture, opera and theater performances, printmaking, and many other mediums. Kentridge grew up in Apartheid-era Johannesburg, and he has continued to live there throughout his life. His art has sought to explore the edges, cracks, and uncertain spaces of a South Africa in transition from an oppressive, racially segregated society to an uncertain and challenging democracy.
The work of William Kentridge has been seen in museums and galleries around the world since the 1990s, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Albertina Museum in Vienna, Musée du Louvre in Paris, Whitechapel Gallery in London, Louisiana Museum in Copenhagen, the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid, the Kunstmuseum in Basel, and Zeitz MOCAA and the Norval Foundation in Cape Town. Opera productions include Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Shostakovich’s The Nose, and Alban Berg’s operas Lulu and Wozzeck.
The Royal Academy of the Arts, London will present an exhibition William Kentridge, on view September 24-December 11, 2022.
About The Broad
The Broad is a contemporary art museum founded by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. The museum offers free general admission and presents an active program of rotating temporary exhibitions and innovative audience engagement, all within a landmark building designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler. The Broad is home to The Broad collection, which is one of the world’s leading collections of postwar and contemporary art.
The 120,000-square-foot building features two floors of gallery space and is the headquarters of The Broad Art Foundation’s worldwide lending library, which has been loaning collection works to museums around the world since 1984.For news and updates, sign up for email newsletters at thebroad.org or follow The Broad on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.
About REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater)
REDCAT, CalArts’ downtown center for contemporary arts, is a multidisciplinary center for innovative visual, performing and media arts founded by CalArts in the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex in downtown Los Angeles. Through performances, exhibitions, screenings and literary events, REDCAT introduces diverse audiences, students and artists to the most influential developments in the arts from around the world, and gives artists in this region the creative support they need to achieve national and international stature.
REDCAT continues the tradition of the California Institute of the Arts, its parent organization, by encouraging experimentation, discovery and lively civic discourse.
To learn more, visit REDCAT.org.