William Kentridge: Anything Is Possible gives viewers an intimate look into the mind and creative process of William Kentridge, the South African artist whose acclaimed charcoal drawings, animations, video installations, shadow plays, mechanical puppets, tapestries, sculptures, live performance pieces, and operas have made him one of the most dynamic and exciting contemporary artists working today. With its rich historical references and undertones of political and social commentary, Kentridge’s work has earned him inclusion in Time magazine’s 2009 list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
This documentary features exclusive interviews with Kentridge as he works in his studio and discusses his artistic philosophy and techniques. In the film, Kentridge talks about how his personal history as a white South African of Jewish heritage has informed recurring themes in his work—including violent oppression, class struggle, and social and political hierarchies. Additionally, Kentridge discusses his experiments with “machines that tell you what it is to look” and how the very mechanism of vision is a metaphor for “the agency we have, whether we like it or not, to make sense of the world.” We see Kentridge in his studio as he creates animations, music, video, and projection pieces for his various projects, including Breathe (2008); I am not me, the horse is not mine (2008); and the opera The Nose (2010), which premiered earlier this year at New York’s Metropolitan Opera to rave reviews.
With its playful bending of reality and observations on hierarchical systems, the world of The Nose provides an ideal vehicle for Kentridge. The absurdism, he explains in the documentary’s closing, “…is in fact an accurate and a productive way of understanding the world. Why should we be interested in a clearly impossible story? Because, as Gogol says, in fact the impossible is what happens all the time.”