About the Exhibition

William Kentridge


Closed Began 13 MAY 2017 Ended 12 AUGUST 2017

  • Hours Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. / Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. /Closed Mondays
  • Room Room 39 "y 40 - Sala de exposiciones" (first floor)

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It is an honor for the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes to present, for the first time in Argentina, the work of William Kentridge, thanks to this institution's joint efforts with BP17, Buenos Aires's Performance Biennial.

The works on exhibition will be the video installation Notes Towards a Model Opera and the series of watercolors on printed pages In Mockery of Progress, both from 2015 -- works in which, through different media, Kentridge restores to art its explicit political dimension, exposing, with sarcasm and humor, the disasters of our era.

In 1958, Mao Tse Tung launched the slogan “May a thousand flowers bloom"; he urged the unlimited development of all possible currents of thought. A decade later, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) brought with it the largest "revolutionary" disciplining of the population, which included a ban on ... public exhibition of flowers. Humiliation of officials in "scenes of reeducation," the torture, imprisonment, and confinement in "labor camps" of millions of people who were considered heirs to cultural tradition, which was declared null and void by decree, were, for over ten years, the stuff of daily life.

William Kentridge offers an ironic reading of those tragic situations as he takes on the "model revolutionary operas" Chiang-Chin (Madame Mao) devised as a critical tool for eradicating bourgeois thought. But his venture into this material has a twist to it: it is the African revolutionaries inspired by Maoism who dance, with rifles and in ethnic dress, vernacular versions of the International, parodying the scenes of ridicule the "revisionists" were subjected to. This dance harbors a paradox: it was through these very means that China achieved its current-day colonization of Africa. The dazibao (slogans scrawled in ideograms) dialogue with Kentridge's travel diaries and show how these precepts were adapted into efforts aimed "to come up with the least good idea." Thus he proceeds to question fiercely the powers by which they evolve into a sinister mascarade, no less brutal for all its absurdity.

Andrés Duprat
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

William Kentridge was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he currently lives and works.
He is one of his country's outstanding artists, recognized internationally for his drawings, collages, prints, animated films, theater and opera productions. His works explore themes related to his own experiences: social injustice, revolutionary politics, and the power of creative expression.
In the 1970s, he devoted himself to Politics and African Studies at the University of Witwatersrand. He later co-founded the theater company Junction Avenue Theatre. He studied mime and theater at the Jacques Lecoq School in Paris. On his return to Johannesburg, he worked in various areas of film, television, and theater, collaborating in projects with the Handspring Puppet Company.
En 2010, Kentridge was  awarded the Kyoto Prize, in recognition of his contributions to the arts and philosophy. In 2011, he was chosen as an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and received a doctorate honoris causa in Literature from the University of London. In 2012, he delivered the prestigious “Norton Lectures” at Harvard University. Recently his works were presented at the Tate Modern, in London; la Scala, in Milan; the Metropolitan Opera and the Museum of Modern Art, in New York; and the Jeu de Paume gallery and the Louvre Museum, in Paris.