William Kentridge and the Black Box of German Colonialism
This paper will be on the South African artist William Kentridge and his art work for mechanical, miniaturized theatre, Black Box/Chambre Noir. In this multi-media art work Kentridge is dealing with a social criticism on the German massacre of the Herero population in Namibia during the beginning of the 20th century, as well as the atrocities committed under the name of colonialism in general. The Black Box in this instance refers to the recorded evidence of the past. This relates for example to other circumstances where investigators are able to regain from an aeroplane’s Black Box the vital evidence encoded during the last moments of an aircraft disaster. Closer scrutiny will be given to the artist’s handling and utilizing of different art forms like animated films, kinetic sculptural objects, and drawings in order to create his “Gesamtkunstwerk”, but criticism will also be lodged against his choice of music as accompaniment to the script. In keeping with the conference theme explanations will be given as to how the process of creation, the historical context, and visual and aural experience when viewing the work of art can contribute to the teaching of art, as well as to cultural education in general.
Keywords: William Kentridge, Black Box/Chambre Noir, South Africa, German Colonialism, Namibia, Animated Films, Kinetic Sculptural Objects, Drawings, Cultural Education
Dr. Daniel G. Geldenhuys
Professor, Musicology division of the Department of Art History, Visual Arts and Musicology.