HANDS ON: William Kentridge

The following activity ideas can be used to engage audiences in a hands-on approach to processing the ideas presented in the artist's film segment. They were compiled from our Educators' Guides and Screening Toolkits. Activities include not only visual art strategies but writing, research, and other disciplinary methods. Additional resources and strategies for teaching with films and working with contemporary art can be found in Teach.


From "9 Drawings for Projection (1989-2003): History of the Main Complaint," 1996. Production stills, dimensions variable. Photo by John Hodgkiss. © William Kentridge. Courtesy of the artist.

Create a drawing and take a digital photograph of it. Exchange your photo for a classmate's and erase, add to, or alter the image you received. Photograph this work and repeat the process with other classmates. Reflect on how the original drawings change over time.

This can also be done with only drawing. Get into groups with your peers, and each person in the group should have a color and an eraser that is solely theirs. Before you begin, reflect on the cultural meanings of the colors. (In Kentridge's work, what meanings are conveyed by certain colors that reappear?) Repeat the process outlined above, but use drawing only, without photography


SEGMENT: William Kentridge in "Compassion"

Kentridge says that he enjoys "staying in the looseness," of trying different things. Create a work of art that begins in one medium, such as drawing, and then attempt to add another medium that may seem unrelated, such as performance. This can be done at random: by writing a list of mediums, putting them in a hat, then pulling out one medium to begin the work with, and a second medium to continue the work.

"I'm interested in machines that make you aware of the process of seeing, and aware of what you do when you construct the world by looking," says William Kentridge. Create a small exhibit of images and descriptions of machines throughout history that have transformed the sense of sight, and thus influenced society's understanding of the world.


Drawing for "What Will Come (has already come) (Two Heads)," 2007. Charcoal on paper, cold rolled steel table and mirrored steel cylinder, Paper diameter: 47 1/4 inches, Cylinder higher: 11 1/2 inches, diameter: 6 1/2 inches. Installation at Marian Goodman Gallery, 2008. © William Kentridge. Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.