Monday, August 4, 2008

A History of Movements

Film Still from Felix in Exile by William Kentridge

One of the fundamental myths of America is that it is possible to escape the past. We are enamored of the idea that we can live today as if yesterday never existed. We set off down the highway, ride into the sunset, board a plane, or simply change the channel.

The art of South African artist William Kentridge is a direct refutation of this notion. Kentridge creates his animations by drawing, erasing, and redrawing on a single page, rather than using a series of cells. The process leaves behind a history of all the movements that precede a given moment. When a paper blows through the air it leaves a faint trail. A house collapses but leaves behind the standing ghost of its former self.

The following two films were the best that I could dig up on YouTube. The first is a trailer for a film that focuses on the artist. The second is a bootleg of Felix in Exile.

I'm not sure if Kentridge is responsible for the surreal elements of the trailer. I suspect that they are the doing of the filmmakers, but would love some clarification on this point. I am also unsure if I have seen this film. Years ago, I watched an exceptional documentary about Kentridge that included excerpts from his animations, segments of interview, and footage of his creative process. I don't recall any surrealistic edge, but it was quite a long time ago.

I regret that the quality of this video is so poor. Nevertheless, it shows the film in its entirety and conveys a sense of Kentridge's work.

I intend to write more in depth posts on Kentridge in the future. In the meantime, I suggest that you all go to your local library or video store and look for DVDs of his animations. For a written interview with Kentridge go here.

Credit: Felix in Exile still jacked from Wikipedia.