South-African visual artist, William Kentridge has exhibited his work in several museums ans galeries around the world since the 1990′, including Documenta in Kassel, Germany (1997, 2003, 2012), the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1998, 2010), the Albertina Museum in Vienna (2010), Venice Biennale (1993, 1999, 2995) and Jeu de Paume in Paris (2010).
Refuse the Hour is the show companion to The Refusal of Time (the installation).
It’s a chamber opera created in June 2012 in Amsterdam and is now tourning.
William Kentridge interleaves an astonishing range of visual and sound languages, setting dance, music, video and machines, performance, lectures and drama against one another.
The piece also sets on stage a performer, three singers or vocalists, seven musicians, a number of strange machines, and a set of videos.
Refuse the Hour is played as a frontal device, in a theatre or concert hall.
Is it possible to materialize time on a stage? To answer this question, it is at the line between art and science that William Kentridge carries us along in the company of the physicist Peter Galison, a Harvard professor.
Using this dialogue as a starting point, he designed an exhibition for the major contemporary art event, the Documenta of Kassel, in June 2012 and, at the same time, a show for the Festival d’Avignon. With the composer Philip Miller, the choreographer Dada Masilo and the video-maker Catherine Meyburgh, he brings together actors, dancers and singers in this show and plunges them into a world or objects drawn from his unbridled imagination or simply from our daily life, but also diverted from their primary function. Through this world of sounds, songs and images in all their forms – drawings, films, photos –, three times are questioned: Newton’s absolute time, Einstein’s relative time as well as the distortion of space-time, created by the “black hole” phenomenon, subjects as so many metaphors. Because Refuse the Hour is not an illustration of these questions through artistic means but the construction of stories, scripts, brilliantly combining scientific abstractions and very tangible spectacular phenomena. It is through this confrontation of elements composing his performance that William Kentridge moves his project forward and builds it: the men are confronted with the machines they handle, Berlioz’s notes harmonize with those of African music, Méliès’ films go back in time…
In this way an overflow is produced that makes it possible to go very much beyond the single scientific notion of time to take an interest in that of the destiny as well as the pressure that time exerts on our contemporary societies, without forgetting to question colonial time, that time that separated the colonies from the “mother country”.
Decidedly poetic, William Kentridge’s work then appears closely intertwined with politics. A white citizen of an African country, he constantly makes his art the place for a vision of a possible and real change in human behaviours. Without the least nihilism, he offers, through this new dreamscape, a possibility for abolishing the lines between art and science so that they interpret and re-imagine, together, the too often threatening world that surrounds us.
JFP, text written for the Festival d’Avignon.
Download the touring rider.
Download pictures available for the press. Credits: John Hodgkiss.
Download the press kit.
Photography John Hodgkiss.
Photography John Hodgkiss
William Kentridge, conception and libretto
Sabine Theunissen, stage design
Caroline Naphegyi, Adeline Vicart, Tomorrowland, production
Coproduction Holland Festival, Festival d’Avignon, RomaEuropa Festival, Teatro di Roma, Onassis Cultural Center.
With kind support de Marian Goodman Gallery (New York et Paris), Lia Rumma Gallery (Naples et Milan), the Goodman Gallery (Johannesburg et Le Cap) and William Kentridge studio, Johannesburg.
From 2016, executive producer > Quaternaire.
Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)
US tour production in partnership with The Office.
Paris Quartier d’été
Download the talk show after the 25th of July performance (in French & in English).
Roma Europa Festival
OnassiS Cultural Center
Crédit : Festival d’Avignon – Compagnie des Indes