Art21 Film Devoted to William Kentridge

William Kentridge in his studio, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2003

Art21 (Art in the Twenty-First Century) chronicles contemporary art and artists in partnership with PBS and has created a new paradigm for teaching and learning about the creative process. The organization has premiered “William Kentridge: Anything is Possible”—an hour-long, solo documentary about the revolutionary South African artist.

The film features exclusive interviews with Kentridge—following him in his studio and around the world as he describes his work, techniques and his upbringing in South Africa. The son of prominent antiapartheid lawyers, Kentridge discusses the impact of growing up in a household where there was “an incandescent rage” against accepted social and political inequities. His personal experience is translated into a universal one as he draws upon stories ranging from the time of the Enlightenment to 20th-century colonial wars, from Russian modernism to contemporary South Africa in order to examine themes of a divided world, a divided self and the ways in which we create illusions of coherence despite the many contradictions in our lives and societies.

The film also features extensive behind-the-scenes footage at the Metropolitan Opera as Kentridge prepared, staged and directed the opera The Nose (based on the story by Nikolai Gogol) for its March 2010 premiere.

“The profound manner in which William Kentridge simultaneously combines many different facets of contemporary art in his work—drawing, sculpture, music, film—while reflecting on a rich variety of ideas, from historical cataclysms to political events of our time, including the fall of apartheid in South Africa, provides us with a vehicle to explore fully the power of art and its ability to help us understand the world today,” said Susan Sollins, Art21 Executive Director.

For more information on “William Kentridge: Anything is Possible,” visit art21.org/anythingispossible. —Cherie Haas

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