William Kentridge and the Black Box of German Colonialism

By Daniel G. Geldenhuys.

Published by The Arts Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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. 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 lead to a better understanding of art in its social context.

Keywords: William Kentridge, Black Box/Chambre Noir, South Africa, German Colonialism, Namibia, Animated Films, Kinetic Sculptural Objects, Drawings, Cultural Education

The International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.69-76. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 938.389KB).

Dr. Daniel G. Geldenhuys

Professor, Musicology division of the Department of Art History, Visual Arts and Musicology., History of Music., University of South Africa in Pretoria, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

Daniel Geldenhuys was born in Pretoria, South Africa. He has obtained music qualifications from the Conservatoire of Music, Pretoria; Koninklijk Conservatorium, Den Haag; Trinity College, London; Unisa, Pretoria; as well as Masters and Doctors degrees in Musicology at the University of Stellenbosch. Since 1977 he has been teaching at the University of South Africa (Unisa) in Pretoria. Many articles, publications in books and entries in encyclopaedias have been authored by him on Musicological as well as Art subjects. He is the "Fachbeirat" and author of most of the entries on South Africa in the newly revised encyclopaedia, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, which is being published in Kassel. Daniel Geldenhuys has built up an international career of reading papers at conferences on music and art all over the world.

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