SAM Art: An ambiguous procession

“Things that seem whimsical, incidental, inauthentic may be trusted to provide entry into the heart of one’s material.”

– William Kentridge, 2001

William Kentridge’s raw images prompt our imagination in a way that Technicolor realism cannot.  Shadow Procession is set in a featureless landscape that still manages to reference the streets of a Johannesburg of the past. People struggle to move quickly, but we’re not sure if they are fleeing a menace or simply hurrying home. A cat stretches, an eyeball swivels, an Everyman dictator gestures, and a pair of scissors begins to march. Kentridge’s art thrives on ambiguity and unresolved endings.

Shadow Procession, 1999, William Kentridge (South African, born 1955), music by Alfred Makgalemele, 35mm film transferred by telecine to Beta SP PAL video cassette, approx.. 7 mins., The 1999 Maryatt Gala, William and Ruth True, Rebecca and Alexander Stewart, General Acquisition Fund, and James and Christina Lockwood, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2002.51, © William Kentridge and Alfred Makgalemele. On view in the African art galleries, fourth floor, SAM downtown, starting 18 September.