William Kentridge ‘The Refusal of Time’ at the Met

William Kentridge, Museum Review

Museum Review

Circa 2014. Be aware. There will be no intermission but I do have a smoke machine so don’t panic. Today’s ride will be endowed by the mystical power of writing and centered around William Kentridge. In particular his intellectual installation The Refusal of Time in the Met. (This transit is ready to depart mind the doors please.) Mr. Kentridge lives and works in Johannesburg and has a background in life theatre and stop motion animation. He developed an interest in the nature of time intrigued by a study on a 1905 paper on relativity by Einstein. Addressing that time is not absolute but relative and resistant to control. No need to stir, Mr. Kentridge is not employing quantum electromagnetics, he has given us a more naturalistic portrait of time. However, I do recommend cutting down on the Mexican ice teas to optimize comprehension. Let’s continue this journey overground.

The piece consists of a five channel video installation. A sort of epitome of time and space, colonialism, industry, intellectual life. In the middle? A Dickens inspired monotone automaton incarnating the flattening of the working class into a mechanical force screwing on the same old screw and nodding after receiving a piece of fat as a payment (my humble opinion). Metallic sounds click away the years solaced by tribal music. Clocks and shadows of clocks give shape to time. Silhouettes of hardship, walking, journeying, transiting, decanting into another life, the same but different! Mr. Kentridge attempts a definition of the jar of cherries we call life. A very elaborate one (perhaps a notch too elaborate, too intellectual). Undeniably rife! (This transit terminates at Summerhouse.)

With forced abstraction and artistic randomness designed to comfort and silence our busy minds. It does quite the opposite for me (summoning my demons for a riot). Radicalizing my believes. Depicting plebeians incognito as shapes relatable to, poetically appealing, accustomed to hardship, dissected by white caller intellectuals. It makes me loose my train of thought. It forces me to institute a zone of privacy that few can penetrate. The installation is condescending to the direction society is casually journeying on. The cost of the cultural melting pots, requiring from its cornered minorities the surrender of precious local peculiarities and identities. When art is too deep my pencil gets tired. When I make my fortune reading teacups I will buy the Met and convert it into a summerhouse. (This transit ends here please leave the vehicle.)



As originally published on March 14, 2014 by AskANewYorker – William Kentridge ‘The Refusal of Time’ at the Met


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