For William Kentridge (b. 1955, South Africa), stop-motion animation fosters “an understanding of the world as process rather than as fact.” Since 1989 the artist has exploited the “transformability” of the charcoal medium, using evolving drawings and collages as the basis for short films. This necessitates photographically documenting each adjustment in the process, and Kentridge savors the disjunction between the time it takes to generate a single frame and the temporal experience of the film as it unfolds.
Tango for Page Turning (2012) belongs to a constellation of work created for Refuse the Hour, a multimedia chamber opera conceived and written by Kentridge in collaboration with composer Philip Miller and fellow South African choreographer Dada Masilo. This project grew out of Kentridge’s conversations with historian of science Peter Galison about, among other things, the standardization of time and the interdependence of imperialism and technology. Here Kentridge superimposes text fragments and images onto the pages of a series of books, making them appear as a single flipping volume. Across these pages one encounters Masilo and Kentridge in motion to the accompaniment of a stuttering score; Miller amplifies questions about cultural transmission by jumbling the lyrics to an English translation of the Hector Berlioz song “Le Spectre de la Rose.”
This is the premier showing of the first acquisition initiated through the New Media Arts Consortium, a collaboration of the art museums at Bowdoin College, Brandeis University, Colby College, Middlebury College, Mount Holyoke College, and Skidmore College.