'Triumphs and Laments' by William Kentridge
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'Triumphs and Laments' by William Kentridge

'Triumphs and Laments' by William Kentridge

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Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre SOAS, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London, WC1H 0XG, United Kingdom

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This event is organised in collaboration with Sotheby's Institute of Art

Triumphs & Laments is an ephemeral project. Pollution and biological growth, which darken the marble stones of the walls containing the Tiber River were washed away to reveal a series of images: Marcus Aurelius from the Campidoglio, Rome as a widow from a 14th century illuminated manuscript, a newspaper photograph of the dead Pasolini.

Over the course of a few  years the stones will darken again and swallow the images.  This feels right. The images are provisional: one reading of a history in which glory and shame are inextricably linked.

The drawings on the wall gather moments and characters from the present day back to Rome’s founding myth, to participate in a slow motion performance along the 500 m stretch of the river wall that they traverse.

For the concert that coincided with the completion of the frieze, Philip Miller gathered two groups of musicians, each group beginning their performance 500 m apart at the two bridges marking the limits of the frieze: a Triumph and a Lament, passing through one another.

In his talk, Kentridge will outline this gargantuan site-specific engagement, touching on the challenges he faced and on the formal and narrative devices he used in his reflection on the successes (Triumphs) and tragedies (Laments) that have marked the history of Rome. 

The event will be followed by a reception.

William Kentridge’s (born Johannesburg, South Africa) practice is born out of a cross-fertilisation between mediums and genres. His work responds to the legacies of colonialism and apartheid, within the context of South Africa's socio-political landscape. His aesthetics are drawn from the medium of film’s own history, from stop-motion animation to early special effects. Kentridge’s drawing, specifically the dynamism of an erased and redrawn mark, is an integral part of his expanded animation and filmmaking practice, where the meanings of his films are developed during the process of their making. Kentridge’s practice also incorporates his theatre training. His production of ‘The Magic Flute’ (2005), an opera in which drawing and music were interwoven to construct a story rich with symbolism. In his production of ‘Lulu’, shifting  fragmented and reconstituted ink drawings projected across the stage exaggerate the angularity of the set and the disorientation of Lulu’s world.

Recent shows include solo presentations at Marian Goodman Gallery (New York/London), Galleria Lia Rumma (Milan, Italy), Ullens Center (Beijing, China), Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA), as well as group exhibitions and biennials all over the world such as the 13th Documenta in Kassel, Germany (2012) and the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015.

In autumn 2016, the artist will present recent work, including a series of large-scale installations, at Whitechapel Gallery, London. 

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Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre SOAS, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London, WC1H 0XG, United Kingdom

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