William Kentridge, More Sweetly Play the Dance – Érika Nimis, La marche du monde

[Summer 2020]

Interdisciplinary artist William Kentridge (born 1955 in Johannesburg) is internationally celebrated for his animated films composed of charcoal drawings and as a director of live shows. Born into an activist family intimately involved with the anti-apartheid struggles of the 1980s, Kentridge works in media as varied as printmaking, sculpture, performance, theatre, and opera. In 2016, the National Gallery of Canada acquired his immersive video installation More Sweetly Play the Dance (2015). Following its presentation at the Art Gallery of Alberta, it has been in Ottawa since December 2019,1 alongside another, older work also acquired by the Gallery, What Will Come (2007).2

More Sweetly Play the Dance is installed in a space defined by a circle of eight large screens onto which are projected changing landscapes drawn in charcoal, representing the areas surrounding Johannesburg that have been destroyed by intensive mining. In the centre of the room are chairs of various shapes and sizes and four speakers whose shadows are projected onto the screens. Spectators can place themselves anywhere and move the chairs to “join the dance.” In other words, the spectators are part of the work, and their interaction with it conditions their reception of it…

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1 More Sweetly Play the Dance, 2015, video installation presented at the National Gallery of Canada from December 14, 2019, to November 8, 2020.
2 What Will Come (2007) is an anamorphic animated film evoking the invasion of Abyssinia by Mussolini’s troops in 1935–36, ultimately vanquishing the Ethiopian army through the use of chemical weapons.

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