Internationally-Renowned South African Artist William Kentridge Brings Exhibit To MOAD MDC

Internationally-Renowned South African Artist William Kentridge Brings Exhibit To MOAD MDC

The renowned and recently revamped Museum of Art and Design (MOAD) at Miami Dade College (MDC) will present More Sweetly Play the Dance, a video installation by the internationally-renowned South African artist William Kentridge. More Sweetly Play the Dance encircles viewers in a procession of moving images and sound, a looped spectacle-sometimes stately, sometimes raucous-that captivatingly engages themes of life, death and current events. The installation will be on view from May 19, 2018 through January 20, 2019.

More Sweetly Play the Dance is part of MOAD MDC's Living Together, an exciting cross-disciplinary series of programs that will galvanize Miami audiences with thoughtful and challenging performances and exhibitions that draw from art, music, theater, politics, and poetry. Spread across the city at a wide array of venues, the series features performances, exhibitions, film and video screenings, readings, talks, and workshops that reflect the cultural, social, and political realities of how we live now. Living Together seeks to find new ways to think about civic space and citizenship, to instigate actions and conversations that may help to reimagine cities and lives.

More than 130 feet long, William Kentridge's 8-channel video installation, More Sweetly Play the Dance, surrounds the viewer. Partly filmed live, partly rendered in Kentridge's signature animated style based on his drawings in charcoal, the work covers the walls of a gallery with images of a procession in a blasted landscape. The work suggests multiple histories, including an update of the danse macabre, a New Orleans jazz funeral, an exodus of displaced people, and a mythic journey. This kaleidoscopic parade of death includes a brass band in the lead; followed by people carrying possessions or shrouded bodies; robed figures holding giant Classical busts, portraits, or birdcages; priests bearing funereal lilies; patients dragging their IV drips; skeletons; and a live ballerina (longtime Kentridge collaborator, the South African dancer Dada Masilo) who wears a military uniform and carries a rifle. Wooden chairs and four megaphones on tripods playing the soundtrack help make this video an immersive experience for its viewers. Combining elements of medieval allegory with evocations of recent sights such as Syrian refugees and bodies felled by Ebola, Kentridge presents a carnivalesque reminder of our own mortality that is by turns morbid, chilling, comic, and political. But in the artist's hands, the triumph of death ultimately becomes a celebration of resilience and life.

"William Kentridge is a remarkable artist," says Rina Carvajal, the Executive Director and Chief Curator of MOAD, "whose works speak of art and politics, of humanism and the uncertainty of a world always contradicting itself. The artist's deeply poetic approach to issues that matter urgently makes More Sweetly Play the Dance a crucial work of art to bring to Miami."

More Sweetly Play the Dance was originally commissioned in 2015 by the EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam. The installation combines silhouettes with the artist's distinctive style of animation that stems from his process as a draftsman. Kentridge often begins his work on a single piece of paper, drawing, erasing, and redrawing over and over again. He photographs each changing state of his compositions and then uses the photographs to create moving images. In More Sweetly Play the Dance, figures pass from one screen to the next, forming an unbroken, friezelike caravan that never ends. Changing background images come from world maps, pages from the artist's notebooks, and texts written in Chinese. Each cycle of the looped film is fifteen minutes long. The title of the work alludes to a line from "Death Fugue," a famous poem by the Romanian-Jewish writer Paul Celan (1920 - 1970): "He calls out more sweetly play death..."

About the processional form, Kentridge says: "In some ways we first come across it in Plato's Allegory of the Cave. In a prelude to talking about the responsibility of the philosopher king, he describes people walking behind a screen carrying wooden and stone objects in their hands, their shadows thrown onto the wall opposite the prisoners shackled in the cave watching the shadows." More Sweetly Play the Dance addresses the "Sisyphean task of showing people in the cave the necessity of viewing the light."

William Kentridge is regarded as one of the most significant artists of our time. He has gained international recognition for his distinctive animated short films, and for the charcoal drawings he creates through erasure and redrawing. A third-generation South African of Lithuanian-Jewish heritage and a native of Johannesburg, Kentridge has always addressed contemporary life in South Africa, during both Apartheid and the post-Apartheid period, investigating the ways in which identities are shaped through shifting ideas of history and place. He explores the role of poetry in contemporary society, and offers a biting, satirical commentary of that society. For more than three decades, his work has spanned several artistic disciplines, including visual art, cinema, and theater. Through the mediums of film, sculpture, installation, charcoal drawing, and live theater, Kentridge has explored the nature of memory and emotions, and the ambiguity and complexity of social conflicts in the age of globalization.

Kentridge's work has been exhibited widely throughout the world. Major exhibitions were held at the Reina Sofia in Madrid in 2017, and the Ullens Center in Beijing, China, in 2015. A major traveling exhibition, Fortuna, toured Latin America in 2013 - 15. Other recent solo shows have been presented at the Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Espoo, Finland (2014); ICA Boston (2014) and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2013).

In "A Dream of Love Reciprocated," in 2014, Kentridge wrote, "My concern has been both with the existential solitude of the walker, and with social solitude-lines of people walking in single file from one country to another, from one life to an unknown future."

Living Together will take place at various sites across the greater Miami area now through January 2019 and will include works by 17 of the most acclaimed national and International Artists, art collectives, musicians, and writers. Events in the series will be produced by MOAD in collaboration with a range of other Miami institutions, and most events will be free and open to the public. The curators of Living Together are Rina Carvajal and Joseph R. Wolin, an independent curator based in New York.

Living Together is made possible by the generous support of Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council; the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture; and the City of Miami Beach, Cultural Affairs Program, Cultural Arts Council.

Museum admission: $12 adults; $8 seniors and military; $5 students (ages 13-17) and college students (with valid ID); free for MOAD members, MDC students, faculty, and staff, and children 12 and under.

For updates and a full schedule of events, please visit http://www.mdcmoad.org/

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