William Kentridge: Waiting for the Sibyl

May 6, 2020

“For me Calder always has to do with things that revolve and turn and if there’s one thing that reminds me of this turning, it is the story of the Sibyl”. William Kentridge

Lia Rumma Gallery presents on its new website the world première of the film by William Kentridge “Waiting for the Sibyl”, along with a focus on Waiting for the Sibyl and other histories, the upcoming solo exhibition by the South African artist at the Lia Rumma Gallery in Milan.

The photo gallery features a short video that shows the workshop held in Johannesburg in 2019 and the integral vision of the homonymous theatrical work that was premiered at the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome in September 2019. Other iconographic references enrich this section. A selection of works that will be part of the exhibition are also on display.
“Waiting for the Sibyl” is the title of Kentridge’s most recent project, conceived as a companion piece to Work in Progress, the only stage work conceived by the US sculptor Alexander Calder for Teatro dell’Opera in Rome in 1968. Inspired by the movement and by the rotation of Calder’s artworks, Kentridge evokes the priestess mentioned by Dante: the Cumean Sibyl, who used to write her prophecies for people’s destinies on oak leaves. The leaves at the mouth of her cave were scattered by the wind, confusing the destinies of those who came to fetch them. This image becomes a symbol of uncertainty and of time that flows, mutates and returns.
In the video the contemporary Sibyl has been portrayed as an African dancer. The figure dances against book pages, to jazz music composed by Kyle Shepherd and vocal compositions by Nhlanhla Mahlangu. Drawings in Indian ink describe trees with black branches and leaves that mutate and change. William Kentridge notes that the contemporary equivalent of the Sibyl is the algorithm, which relentlessly predicts our fate. In contrast the drawings, some made on pages from Dante’s Divine Comedy, show trees, leaves, animated objects, coloured geometrical forms and dancing silhouettes in mutation. They bring new life and humanity to the attempt of discovering our own fate and to the feelings of fear and anxiety that result from it.

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