William Kentridge: The Refusal of Time

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William Kentridge: The Refusal of Time

Winter/Spring 2018 Preview

“A great artist working at the peak of his powers”—Boston Globe

Experience the fusion of art, science, and history, and explore thought-provoking ideas about time in this spectacularly immersive installation by acclaimed artist William Kentridge. Combining projections of his evocative, often-humorous hand-drawn animations and live-action sequences with music and sculpture, The Refusal of Time is as visually stunning as it is mind-opening.

The project evolved from Kentridge’s conversations with Harvard professor Peter Galison about revolutions in the conception of time around the dawn of the 20th century—from Albert Einstein’s radical theory of relativity to new attempts to standardize time, a means of asserting control and fortifying colonization. The latter is an ongoing theme for Kentridge, who lives and works in South Africa.

For The Refusal of Time, Kentridge transforms the space of a gallery into a vibrant theater of activity where you’ll move among screens, dispersed crates and chairs, large megaphones, and at the center, a mysteriously imposing wooden device. Appearing to breathe, the machine seems to power the images and sounds that fill your senses.

Hypnotic, mesmerizing, and rich in its ambiguity, the work is a poetic investigation into humanity’s journey through time as an act of resistance and rebellion—against imposed worldviews as well as our own mortality. As Kentridge said of the work, it’s a search for “moments of coherence, of understanding and changing the world, which is the most we can hope for.”


Image Credits


William Kentridge, The Refusal of Time , 2012. Made in collaboration with Philip Miller, Catherine Meyburgh, Dada Masilo, and Peter Galison. Five-channel video, black-and-white and color, sound, 30 mins.; steel megaphones and breathing machine “elephant.” Dimensions variable. © 2012 William Kentridge. All rights reserved. Jointly owned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (purchased, by exchange, through an anonymous gift and the K. Hart Smith Trust) and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (purchased with Roy R. and Marie S. Neuberger Foundation Inc., Wendy Fisher Gifts, and The Raymond and Beverly Sackler 21st Century Art Fund).

Image 1: Installation view, © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image source: Art Resource, NY.

Images 2, 4, 5: Film stills courtesy of the artist, Marian Goodman Gallery, Lia Rumma Gallery, and Goodman Gallery.

Image 3, 6: Installation view, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, 2014. Photo: Charles Mayer Photography.

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