Contemporary Galleries: 1980–Now

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William Kentridge. Felix in Exile. 1994

35mm film transferred to video (color, sound). 8:43 min. Edward and Marjorie Goldberger Foundation Fund and The Herbert and Nannette Rothschild Memorial Fund in memory of Judith Rothschild. © 2018 William Kentridge

Artist, William Kentridge: On the wall of my studio there's a sheet of paper. And halfway across the studio is my 35-millimeter movie camera. And I start a drawing on the sheet of paper, and walk back to the camera, and shoot a couple of frames. And then go and simply erase or add to the existing drawing, walk back to the camera, shoot a few more frames. And the sum of those alterations and changes becomes the film. Each scene is one drawing. So the film slowly constructs itself through the days and weeks and months. And after the film, the drawings that are left, are each a record of the final image of each scene.

When I started making these films, I tried very hard to hide all the traces of erasing. But I failed. And it took quite a while for me to understand that the visible snail's trail of every object in the drawing was in fact part of their virtue. And did become in fact part of the meaning, whether I liked it or not, that the films became about the persistence of memory, or the process of time being made visible.