Art21 is proud to announce the forthcoming broadcast of our latest film, William Kentridge: Anything Is Possible, the first film produced by Art21 for national television broadcast outside of the biennial Art in the Twenty-First Century series. The film is also Art21′s first feature to focus on a single artist.
The broadcast premiere of William Kentridge: Anything Is Possible takes place this October 21 at 10:00 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings).
The film gives viewers an intimate look into the mind and creative process of William Kentridge, the South African artist whose acclaimed charcoal drawings, animations, video installations, shadow plays, mechanical puppets, tapestries, sculptures, live performance pieces, and operas have made him one of the most dynamic and exciting contemporary artists working today.
A Web site complements the film, where you can learn more about the film, watch related videos, and browse through image slideshows. Throughout the coming weeks leading into the October 21 broadcast, we will be releasing additional features related to William Kentridge: Anything Is Possible. Features will include essays and interviews contributed by writers from the Art21 Blog stable of contributors, preview and exclusive videos, thematic image slideshows, educational features, and much more.
Stay tuned, we’re just getting started!
N. Bernard Viljoen is a South African architect based in Johannesburg. He was raised on a farm in the Free State outside the quaint South African town, Parys. He graduated as an architect from the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein in 2001, and won the Corobrik National Student of the Year award that same year for his final year thesis project entitled: “…’N[9.]museum?…” This project consisted of a museum in the Karoo and questioned the “traditional” museum/exhibition space and the interaction of the spectator and the works on display therein. Furthermore, his project celebrated and acknowledged the Karoo (semi desert), with its subtle layering and vast emptiness. Since then, Bernard has accomplished a lot in his field and he continues to be recognized for his achievements and ethos.
Today though, I’m talking to Bernard about his involvement with the Twilight Children shelter for street kids in Hillbrow, Johannesburg. It was only a few months ago when I met with him in Rosebank for Savannas, where he showed me the website and project he was working on entitled, I was shot in Jo’burg. This was the evolution of his initial community service program, jo’burg on monday afternoons, which consisted of a photography course where 15 children had the opportunity to participate and document their surroundings, as well as exhibit the fruits of their labor at the Arts on Main in downtown Johannesburg in late 2009. The second stage of his community-based endeavor was I was shot in Joburg — a project that implemented the newly developed skills of the children by offering them a platform to generate income. I was shot in Joburg shoots portraits of people in public spaces or special events, which can then be purchased online and be printed on a T-shirt.
I had been looking for a community-based project that was sustainable – with potential for growth and inspiring those involved. Bernard is invested in the life, culture, and politics of South Africa and I was shot in Joburg is the ultimate manifestation of that very investment. His drive, passion, and professionalism have significantly elevated the conscious and lives of 15 street kids.
It is an absolute honor to present to you today N. Bernard Viljoen and Mojalefa, Tony, Ezekiel, Thulani, Sibusiso M., Sibusiso I., Anele, Siphiwe M., Sinethemba, Sandile, Tent, Mehluli N., Siphiwe [Skroef], Mehluli S., and Solani — who are part of the I was shot in Joburg team in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Georgia Kotretsos: Bernard, what has taken you from sustainable architecture to sustainable community work?
N. Bernard Viljoen: It all started on a horse carriage in Central Park, NY, with my friend, the fabulous Suzette Main. We drove past this beautiful building and Sue commented that that is what Camps Bay should look like. It turned out she had bought a building on the strip in Camps Bay and asked me to do a proposal for the design thereof. One thing led to another and in a few months, I found myself in Camps Bay working on this project with her. The Grand Café on Camps Bay soon opened its doors and many happy evenings were spent on the balcony sipping sparkling wine overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. One of those particular nights, on my way home I found myself in the midst of a roadblock. I won’t go into detail, but I spent a night in jail and appeared in front of the local magistrate soonafter. It was a bit of a “gedoente.” With the help of a good attorney and a magistrate with a vision, I was summonsed to community service. My attorney and I somehow managed to convince the magistrate that instead of washing buses or cleaning public toilets, I should rather do community service that would make a positive contribution to people’s lives. I suggested that I wanted to do a photography program with street kids — a project I always wanted to do but maybe just needed a little motivation for…
7,000 t-shirts, 22 paintings, two awards, a powerful pair, and one big open studio in this week’s roundup:
- Mel Chin (Season 1) has been named a finalist of the first International Award for Participatory Art. Chin and two other artists are invited to spend a research period in Bologna and develop a site specific project idea. The winning project, selected by jury, will be created in 2011. The jury includes Alfredo Jaar (Season 4), Julia Draganovic, Rudolf Frieling, and Bert Theis. In addition to the budget to accomplish the project, the winning artist will receive an award of 15,000 Euros.
- Mark Bradford (Season 4), working with the Getty Museum, has unveiled Open Studio: A Collection of Artmaking Ideas by Artists, a new project to provide free online arts activities for K-12 teachers to use in their classrooms. Open Studio is the inaugural project of the Getty Artists Program, an expanded effort to involve contemporary artists in the Museum’s Education programs. Bradford designed Open Studio to provide brief, accessible activities that don’t require a great deal of preparation or supplies. A teacher can click, print, and immediately share them with his or her class. Artists such as Kerry James Marshall (Season 1), Kara Walker (Season 2), Carrie Mae Weems (Season 5), Xu Bing, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Jon Cattapan, Catherine Opie, Graciela Iturbide, and Michael Joo have all contributed activities to the site. Marshall, for example, encourages the study of picture-making and provides a set of instructions to make and use plan and perspective grids. Bradford said: “We take a lot of things very seriously with young children – math, languages, phonics – but not art. We relegate that to something less than serious, something you do after the real work. Well, art is important. It’s always been important. And I wanted children to develop a work ethic about art, an ability to see things through and focus, just like the work ethic they would need to become a doctor or lawyer.” Open Studio is available at blogs.getty.edu/openstudio/.
- William Kentridge (Season 5) has won the Kyoto Prize. According to Artinfo, “The award, similar in status to Nobel Prize in Japan, is bestowed annually by the Inamori Foundation to recognize three visionaries in the categories of arts and philosophy, advanced technology, and basic sciences.” Kentridge will receive $550,000, an honorary diploma, and a 20-carat gold medal in a November ceremony.
- The New York Times reports that approximately 7,000 t-shirts bearing 10 different Jenny Holzer (Season 4) truisms will be dropped in Soweto, on the streets of downtown Johannesburg and at the Goodman Gallery space in South Africa through July 17. Holzer’s project, her first on the African continent, is part of the citywide exhibition series In Context (which also showcases works by Kentridge). Read a short Q &A with Holzer here.
- Works by Barry McGee (Season 1) and Claire Rojas are on view at the Bolinas Museum in California through August 1. The secluded town of Bolinas is, according to Juxtapoz magazine, “perfect” for McGee and Rojas, both “known to shy away from media and the public eye.” Go to Arrested Motion to see images of their installations Leave it Alone and Together at Last.
- Austria’s first exhibition of works by Walton Ford (Season 2) is on view at the Albertina through October. The show comprises 22 paintings made in the last ten years. Watch clips from Ford’s recent talk at the museum here.
- Crystal Bridges has acquired another new work by an Art21 artist, this time a tapestry by Kara Walker (Season 2). A Warm Summer Evening in 1863, Walker’s first tapestry, is based on an engraving originally published in Harper’s Magazine during the Civil War that documented the destruction of an orphanage for black children in New York City. “The black felt silhouette of a lynched female figure that is superimposed on the scene, her noose tied in a neat bow, is not based on a real person, but effectively telegraphs the horror of the racially motivated violence.” This piece was shown earlier this year in the James Cohan Gallery exhibition Demons, Yarns & Tales: Tapestries by Contemporary Artists.
- The work of Season 1 artist Kerry James Marshall is featured in the current issue of Afterall. Read Kobena Mercer’s article Kerry James Marshall: The Painter of Afro-Modern Life, and Terry R. Myers’s piece Kerry James Marshall’s Tempting Painting, an investigation of what’s at stake in calling an artist “a painter.”
100th Exclusive & William Kentridge Exclusives, Carrie Mae Weems Uncut, the problem with talking, and screenings
As usual, there’s a lot of production-related ground to cover I’d like to cover. First, I really need to publicly acknowledge what’s hopefully no longer a private landmark, the release of our 100th Exclusive video last Friday, William Kentridge: Pain & Sympathy. Rather than bore you with some self-congratulatory shout outs to the folks who’ve been responsible for this two years (and counting) effort – Art21 associate curator Wes Miller and web manager Jonathan Munar; freelance editors Mark Sutton, Lizzie Donahue, Mary Ann Toman, Joaquin Perez, Paulo Padilha, and Jenny Chiurco; Art21 Executive Director Susan Sollins and Series Producer Eve Moros Ortega; Art21 production coordinators Larissa Nikola-Lisa and Ian Forster – I thought I’d take this as a chance to pull back the curtain on our online video production process.
The trio of Exclusive William Kentridge videos we’ve released so far – Breathe, Return, and Pain & Sympathy – are a great way to start. Each had the same starting point – a multiple day shoot at William Kentridge’s studio in Johannesburg, South Africa in the Fall of 2008 (initially intended for the Kentridge Season 5 broadcast segment) – but each had a different editorial genesis and trajectory. A little breakdown of which will, hopefully, shed some new and interesting light on our online video production process.
The Breathe Exclusive may be in a way the most typical. It started quite literally as an outtake from the broadcast segment, a sequence that didn’t quite make the final cut; Wes Miller and myself, Art21’s online video producers, inherited it from the broadcast segment’s editor, Mark Sutton. After seeing it for the first time, there was little question in my mind of whether it would make the Exclusive cut. I loved the immersive quality of it, how quickly you’re dropped in on William’s creative process. But I loved the quick pay-off even more. It’s rare that an artist’s process can yield such a complete narrative cycle – a beginning (organizing of cut papers), middle (paper fanning), and end (footage in camera monitor) – in such a short time frame.
The Return Exclusive started, embryonically, as a broadcast segment outtake – basically an uncut 45-second clip of the composer sequence from Kentridge’s original Return video. Wes and I were intrigued when we first saw it. Editorially, it gave us the opportunity to give an idea central to the broadcast segment – William’s fascination with the messily human process of visual perception – a new wrinkle. But we knew we wanted to deliver something more fleshed out, something a bit more directed than just an extended clip. Digging further into the broadcast footage, we discovered we had footage of William actively describing the work at a laptop in his studio (footage not exploited in the broadcast segment). That footage became the skeleton for the segment, the support upon which we could extend and further clip from William’s original video. As we cut the piece, we realized that we were battling against the same perceptual conundrum that William’s describes in his video – our desperate need to resolve chaos into order. As producers, our particular balancing act was to find a way to reveal enough of each individual sequence to suggest some kind of resolution, but not so much that we’ve given away the punchline.