William Kentridge: Pain & Sympathy

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We invited viewers to choose the 100th Exclusive video and, with 43% of the vote, William Kentridge emerged triumphant! We’ll debut the four other videos in contention — with artists Mary Heilmann, Julie Mehretu, Beryl Korot, and Mike Kelley — throughout the month of April. Thanks to all who voted, and without further ado…

Episode #100! With his video History of the Main Complaint (1996) serving as a backdrop, William Kentridge discusses how artists draw upon tragedy as subject matter for their work and how drawing itself can be a compassionate act.

Having witnessed first-hand one of the twentieth century’s most contentious struggles—the dissolution of apartheid—William Kentridge brings the ambiguity and subtlety of personal experience to public subjects most often framed in narrowly defined terms. Using film, drawing, sculpture, animation, and performance, he transmutes sobering political events into powerful poetic allegories. Aware of myriad ways in which we construct the world by looking, Kentridge often uses optical illusions to extend his drawings-in-time into three dimensions.

The traveling exhibition William Kentridge: Five Themes is currently on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (through May 17, 2010).

William Kentridge is featured in the Season 5 (2009) episode Compassion of the Art:21—Art in the Twenty-First Century television series on PBS

VIDEO | Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera: Bob Elfstrom. Sound: Ray Day. Editor: Paulo Padilha. Artwork Courtesy: William Kentridge.

Contributor
Wesley Miller is the Associate Curator at Art21. Miller co-curates the Art in the Twenty-First Century television series. He is also co-creator of the series New York Close Up.