On View

William Kentridge at Marian Goodman Gallery

Installation view. (Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery)

A text composed entirely of titles, a history that refuses to be past and the unquenchable yearning of the recto for the verso. Construction paper fills the screen at the beginning of William Kentridge’s astonishing and devastating new animated video. On a seamless palimpsest of pencil lines and disappearing smudges rest a black book and a short, red pencil. The artist’s hands, his right middle finger stained with black ink, reach in to open what claims, on its pasted-in title page, to be a “Cyclopædia of Mechanics” but is revealed, once open, to be a three-column dictionary. We hear a sad, simple round of repeating chords, played on the piano by Neo Muyanga. A brief, foreshadowing glimpse of the pages’ headings, “Nameless—Namely—Narcotize,” and then the video’s title appears in large, sans serif letters floating over a page headed “Ne’er Do Well—Negro: 2nd Hand Reading.” Read More