Columbus, Ohio—The Wexner Center for the Arts, the multidisciplinary contemporary arts center at The Ohio State University, will bracket its presentation of All of Everything: Todd Oldham Fashion with two distinct installations: a much-admired work by William Kentridge and a new creation by Anita Witek, her first site-specific work in the US.
February 3–April 15, 2018
William Kentridge: The Refusal of Time
“Audience pleasing in the best, challenging sense.”—The New York Times
Blending art and science to produce a spectacularly immersive experience, William Kentridge’s The Refusal of Time is a five-screen, room-sized installation using animation, live action, and music to question conventional notions of time and history. The Wex is proud to be the first cultural institution in the Midwest to present this work.
Debuting to international acclaim at Germany’s documenta 13 in 2012, The Refusal of Time originated from Kentridge’s ongoing conversation with Peter L. Galison, a professor of the history of science at Harvard University, whose research into the work of Albert Einstein and 19th century French mathematicians informed Galison of the concept that lived time is relative rather than universally fixed. From this, Kentridge developed a work that draws on the propulsive theatricality of his grand opera productions to address a running theme in his fine art practice: the impulse of Western countries to colonize the bodies and souls of non-Western cultures, with special reference to his native South Africa, where Kentridge still lives and works.
For The Refusal of Time, the artist turns the gallery space into a theatrical set that evokes a slightly antiquated studio, with randomly placed items and large megaphones. At the center lies a mysteriously imposing machine that Kentridge calls “the elephant”—a reference to a passage in Charles Dickens’s 1854 novel Hard Times. “Breathing” via pumping bellows, the object seems to power the display of images across the five screens and the percussive, tuba-heavy soundtrack by Phillip Miller.
The combined elements create a mesmerizing effect, through which Kentridge offers an informal lesson on changing notions of time—from the celestial model in antiquity and Newton’s mathematical view to Einstein’s theories of relativity—and suggests the idea of time being “refused,” whether to resist the impact of colonial forces or to deny the simple truth of human mortality.
As Kentridge told The Guardian in 2014, “The work is an invitation to the visitor to see if they can find points of connection that overlap between their memory, their experiences and desires, and what they see on the screen and hear.”
An earlier film projection installation by Kentridge, 7 Fragments for Georges Méliès, was presented at the Wexner Center in 2006. His work has also been exhibited at institutions including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Museum der Moderne, Salzburg; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. His opera and theater works have appeared at venues such as the Metropolian Opera, New York; Brooklyn Academy of Music; Standard Bank National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, South Africa; the Salzburg Festival; and Festival d’Avignon, France.
The Refusal of Time is jointly owned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (purchase, by exchange, through an anonymous gift and the K. Hart Smith Trust) and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (purchased with Roy R. and Marie S. Neuberger Foundation Inc. and Wendy Fisher Gifts and The Raymond and Beverly Sackler 21st Century Art Fund)
Debuting February 2018
“With her mastery of de-contextualizing and re-contextualizing imagery, Anita not only takes us on a breathtaking albeit imagined visual journey, but brings us crashing back down to Earth with the startling, though much needed reminder, that none of it is real.”—ArtAttack
Austrian artist Anita Witek makes her debut at the Wexner Center with a monumental site-specific photomontage installation in the lower lobby, the first the artist has realized in the US. The work’s title will be announced in the coming days. It’s organized by the Wexner Center for the Arts and curated by Lucy I. Zimmerman, a curatorial assistant at the Wex.
Drawing from an immense archive of printed material that the artist has amassed over time, Witek begins by extracting subjects from found images. Through this act of elision, the artist defies the viewer’s expectation of the photograph to supply familiar and discernible referents to reality. She instead builds an augmented, richly layered visual field that envelops the spectator in a landscape of fractures and fissures.
Witek’s work has been exhibited at various galleries and museums throughout Europe and the US, including the Leopold Museum; Kunst Haus Wien; Fotomuseum Winterthur; Museum of Fine Arts Houston; and Secession, Vienna. The artist lives and works in Vienna.
Image credit: William Kentridge: The Refusal of Time, 2012 (film still). Made in collaboration with Philip Miller, Catherine Meyburgh, Dada Masilo, and Peter Galison. Five-channel video, black-and-white and color, sound, 30 min.; steel megaphones and breathing machine "elephant." Dimensions variable. Jointly owned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (purchase, by exchange, through an anonymous gift and the K. Hart Smith Trust) and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (purchased with Roy R. and Marie S. Neuberger Foundation Inc. and Wendy Fisher Gifts and The Raymond and Beverly Sackler 21st Century Art Fund). © 2012 William Kentridge. All rights reserved. Image courtesy of the artist, Marian Goodman Gallery, Lia Rumma Gallery, and Goodman Gallery