William Kentridge: Tapestries 12 Dec 2007 - 6 April 2008 Philadelphia Museum of Art
Catalogue co-published by the Museum and Yale University Press (118 p., over 120 high-quality color reproductions, among them documentation of the weaving process) is available >www.philamuseum.org
"He uses the language of one medium to talk about another medium, while at the same time dealing with societies that are themselves in a state of transition," curator Carlos Basualdo.
William Kentridge (born 1955 in Johannesburg, where he still lives) presents for the first time Tapestries in the U.S. The exhibition reflects the development of Kentridge’s iconic images of a porter and the processional characters that represent the transitional conditions that have plagued South Africa in the aftershocks of the apartheid regime since the mid-1990s. The figures are silhouetted so that porter and parcel become one. These hybrid forms are both playful and macabre. To create the tapestries, Kentridge collaged pieces of ripped black construction paper to assemble figures on pages taken from a 19th-century French world atlas. To transfer images from drawings into tapestries they were photographed and enlarged, and from the photographic template were drawn cartoons the size of the tapestries. Using hand-carded mohair weft that had been spun and dyed in Swaziland, studio weavers worked on a vertical loom. Kentridge was intimately involved in producing the tapestries - from mapping out imagery for the meticulous cartoons to selecting the dyes to use on the mohair.
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fig.: Porter Series: Egypte, 2006, William Kentridge. Tapestry weave with embroidery: mohair, acrylic, and polyester. 99 1/2 x 134 inches (252.7 x 340.4 cm). Courtesy of Lia Rumma Gallery, Milan.