NEWPORT — The Newport Art Museum will present the animated short film “Stereoscope” by South African artist William Kentridge. Visitors can view the film in the Museum’s Cushing Gallery through March 10.
“Stereoscope” is the eighth film of Kentridge’s decade-long series featuring the character of Soho Eckstein. Wearing a pinstriped suit, Soho represents the archetypal white South African businessman of the post-apartheid era and is sometimes interpreted as an alter ego of the artist. Kentridge’s films are influenced by the landscape and social memory of his birthplace of Johannesburg. In the words of the artist, “I have never tried to make illustrations of apartheid, but the drawings and films are certainly spawned by and feed off the brutalized society left in its wake. I am interested in a political art, that is to say an art of ambiguity, contradiction, uncompleted gestures and uncertain endings.”
Kentridge’s process is labor-intensive. He made “Stereoscope” by erasing and modifying a single drawing and recording the changes with stop-motion camera work. The end result is an imaginative and expressive film of moving lines, gestures, and forms evocative of Russian and German Expressionist cinema. “Stereoscope” also includes intertitles and a musical score by South African composer Philip Miller.
Born in Johannesburg, Kentridge attended the University of Witwatersrand and the Johannesburg Art Foundation in the 1970s. In addition to studying painting and drawing, the artist also studied mime in Paris in the 1980s. After he returned to South Africa in 1985, Kentridge made his first animated film Vetkoek/Fete Falante. He developed a method of animation for which he photographed charcoal drawings and collages and gradually adjusted them. In the late 1970s and 1980s, he produced posters, drawings, and theater pieces in protest of the South African apartheid regime. He has since made more films, worked in textiles, and directed a production of “The Magic Flute,” which traveled throughout Europe, South Africa, and the United States.
Kentridge has exhibited widely. He has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art (both in New York); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington DC); Centres George Pompidou (Paris); Castello di Rivoli (Italy); Deutche Guggenheim (Berlin); Moderna Museet (Stockholm); Philadelphia Museum of Art; and many others. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art organized a major survey of his work in 2008, which also traveled to the Norton Museum of Art (West Palm Beach, Fla.) and the Museum of Modern Art. He has participated in many group exhibitions including Venice Biennale; Istanbul Biennale; Sydney Biennale; Documenta, Kassel, Germany; Sao Paulo Biennale; Sharjah Biennial Prize among others.
He lives and works in Johannesburg.