William Joseph Kentridge (South African, born 1955)
'Anti-Waste' signed 'Kentridge' (lower right) oil and charcoal on canvas 118 x 158cm (46 7/16 x 62 3/16in).
The present work dates to about 1990, as William Kentridge started work on Mine, the third film in his series 9 Drawings for Projection (1989-2003). South Africa was on the cusp of political change, in the tentative years between the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, the unbanning of political organisations and the free elections of 1994, and Kentridge was gaining renown as one of the country's most important and innovative polymath artists.
"When I set out to make the film Mine (1991), my determination was firstly that it would have a woman protagonist and secondly that it would not involve Soho Eckstein, the mine-owner and the central character in the other three films. I had in my mind an image of Delacroix's painting Liberty Guiding the People: 28 July 1830 (1830), as well as another image of a dancing woman clothed in newspapers. I was determined to have a clear storyboard before commencing on the film. For two weeks I looked into space and brooded. I drew my vision of Liberty Guiding the People, got nowhere and then conceded. I would allow myself to start with Soho, the war-horse from the other films. He would make a short entrance before his daughter, Liberty Eckstein, took over. In the end she did not get a look-in. I had to relinquish my determination and find a gentle entrance to the film."
While Liberty may not have made it as a character in Mine, she inhabits several of Kentridge's works from the time, including Anti-Waste in its charcoal, print and present forms and Arc Procession (Smoke, Ashes, Fable) (1990). She would later morph into the more macabre 'bodies in landscapes' hidden under sheets of newspaper present in Kentridge's films of the mid 1990s. "The ephemerality of paper, too, is a recurring theme in his work as he depicts newspapers flying as detritus through the urban landscape and at times covering the faces and the bodies of those killed by state violence."
Another version of Anti-Waste was produced as part of the Little Morals portfolio published by the Caversham Press in 1991. The work also exists in a charcoal version.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: 'Artist's writings' in William Kentridge, (London, 1999), p. 116 S. Stewart, 'Resistance and Ground: The Prints of William Kentridge' in William Kentridge Prints, (Johannesburg, 2006), p. 17