SEGMENT: William Kentridge in "Compassion"

From "Art in the Twenty-First Century" Season 5 (2009)

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Release date

October 7, 2009


William Kentridge asks “how does one find a way of not necessarily illustrating the society that one lives in, but allowing what happens there to be part of the work?” Shooting without a script when making his animations, Kentridge’s experimental method demonstrates “thinking with one’s hands” and proposes an “understanding of the world as process rather than as fact.” Filmed working in his Johannesburg studio with an opera singer and pianist, the artist is shown creating a video projection out of torn paper choreographed to a Puccini aria recorded through a cell phone. The segment follows Kentridge’s interest in opera as he stages a video installation and performance at the Sydney Biennial in Australia. The segment also showcases a series of anamorphic films projected onto circular tabletops, with a mirrored cylinder at the center that reconstitutes the distorted image.

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