William Joseph Kentridge (South African, born 1955)
'9 Films' signed 'W Kentridge' and numbered '33/50' (upper left) photolithograph 1565 x 108.5cm (616 1/8 x 42 11/16in).(sheet size)
The iconic lithograph 9 Films was made for the landmark first South African showing of all of Kentridge's 9 Drawings for Projections, the series of animated short films set in Johannesburg and created over fourteen years. From Johannesburg: Second Greatest City after Paris (1989) to Tide Table (2003), the films chart the changing socio-political landscape of the city through the artist's powerful charcoal-erasure technique, always leaving a trace: a past that shadows the form of the present. These traces are clearly wrought on the surface of Johannesburg, a city with a subterranean history of exploitative mining and labour practices which leave their scars on both the physical landscape and the nation's psyche.
The screening took place at an incredibly poignant setting: the Old Fort, Constitution Hill, once the site of a prison which held the likes of political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela, and now the home of the Constitutional Court. Taking place over three sittings, the screenings also featured music by the artist's long-term collaborator, composer Philip Miller, performed by the Sontonga Quartet and pianist Jill Richards.
Set in a ravaged mining landscape, the film camera takes centre stage in the current lot, its prominent tripod recalling Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera. The camera inclines at an angle towards a screen (or is it a mirror?), projecting the faint image of the artist himself. Kentridge's work has always implicated the artist as a figure caught up in, and often internally contested over rather than separate from and merely observing the world he conjures through hand and lens.