THE REFUSAL OF TIME, PROLOGUE
with PETER GALISON
& PHILIP MILLER
March 25, 2011 - June 26, 2011
What's the Time? How do we measure it? Can we deny it? These are all questions which, by their physical, technological and philosophical aspects still arise like a puzzle, at the same time both realistic and subjective. As part of the 12th experiment presented at Le Laboratoire, the South African artist William Kentridge and the American scientist Peter Galison wonder about the simultaneity of time as a creative process.
Known for his animated films composed of charcoal drawings, William Kentridge is one of the few South African artists to be internationally renowned. His graphic works, full of poetry and political commitment denounce apartheid and colonialism through symbolic themes such as equality or justice. The artist explores areas as rich and diverse as printmaking, collage, sculpture, performance, theater or opera.
His meeting with Peter Galison, professor of History of Science at the University Joseph Pellegrino and of Physics at Harvard University (author of the famous essay: Einstein's Clocks, Poincare's Maps: Empire of Time of the Editions Robert Laffont) arises as a creative opportunity for multiple purposes.
William Kentdrige incorporates temporality as an inventive concept, if not imaginary; where subjectivity plays a role of realism inherent in the representation of time. According to him, "Peter Galison's work offers extremely rich aesthetic and metaphoric possibilities. The history of relativity in size to both scientific and philosophical, still fascinates us and provide the bulk of visual material to explore the metaphorical implications. The themes of simultaneity, time slows down and speeds, synchronicity and its absence, are exciting and suggest many leads. I imagine for now something that would be somewhere in between performance and installation, between opera and conference, which mixes the transient nature of the presentation and some performance. "
About William Kentridge
Kentridge was born in Johannesburg on 1955. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and African Studies and then a diploma in Fine Arts from the Johannesburg Art Foundation. At the end of the 1970s, he studied mime and theatre at the École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris. Between 1975 and 1991, he was acting and directing in Johannesburg’s Junction Avenue Theatre Company. In the 1980s, he worked on television fi lms and series as art director.
In 1989, Kentridge created his fi rst animated movie, Johannesburg, 2nd Greatest City Aft er Paris, in the series “Drawings for Projection”. For the series, he used a technique that would become a feature of his work - successive charcoal drawings, always on the same sheet of paper, contrary to the traditional animation technique in which each movement is drawn on a separate sheet. His animations deal with political and social themes from a personal and, at times, autobiographical point of view, since the author includes his selfportrait in many of his works. This same animation technique was used for Sobriety, Obesity and Growing Old (1991), Felix in Exile (1994), History of the Main Complaint (1996), and Stereoscope (1999). In 1999, he created Shadow Procession using black carton cut-outs on pages of books and cards. His participations include Documenta X in Kassel (1997), São Paulo’s 29th Art Biennial (1998) and the Venice Art Biennial (1999), as well as solo exhibitions in London, New York, Sydney, Kyoto and Johannesburg. He has also directed opera works including Wozzeck (Berg), The Magic Flute (Mozart), and The Nose (Chostakovitch), and has worked with the composer François Sarhan on a musical piece entitled I Am Not Me, the Horse is not Mine.
About Peter Galison
Peter Louis Galison is the Pellegrino University Professor in History of Science and Physics at Harvard University. Galison received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in both Physics and the History of Science in 1983. His publications include Image and Logic: A Material Culture of Microphysics (1997) and Einstein’s Clocks, Poincare’s Maps: Empires of Time. His most recent book (2007), co-authored with Lorraine Daston, is titled Objectivity. In Image and Logic, Galison explored the fundamental rift rising in the physical sciences: whether singular, visual accounts of scientifi c phenomenon would be accepted as the dominant language of proof, or whether statistically signifi cant, frequently repeated results would dominate the fi eld. This division, Galison claims, can be seen in the confl icts amongst high-energy physicists investigating new particles, some of whom off er up statistically signifi cant and frequently replicated analysis of the new particle passing through electric fi elds, others of whom off er up a single picture of a particle behaving—in a single instance—in a way that cannot be explained by the characteristics of existing known particles. His work with Lorraine Daston developed the concept of “mechanical objectivity” which is oft en used in scholarly literature, and he has done pioneering work on applying the anthropological notion of “trading zones” to scientifi c practice. He has developed a fi lm for the History Channel on the development of the hydrogen bomb, and has done work on the intersection of science with other disciplines, in particular art (along with his wife, Caroline A. Jones) and architecture. He is on the editorial board of Critical Inquiry and was a MacArthur Fellow in 1996.
Galison has been involved in the production of two documentary fi lms. The fi rst, The Ultimate Weapon: The H-Bomb Dilemma, was about the political and scientifi c decisions behind the creation of the fi rst hydrogen bomb in the United States, and premiered on the History Channel in 2000. The second, and most recent, Secrecy, Galison directed with Harvard fi lmmaker Robb Moss, is about the costs and benefi ts of government secrecy, and premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Before moving to Harvard, Galison taught for several years at Stanford University where he was professor of History, Philosophy, and Physics. He is considered part of the “Stanford School” of philosophy of science along with Ian Hacking, John Dupré, and Nancy Cartwright (philosopher).
About Philip Miller
Philip Miller is a South African composer based in Johannesburg. Born in 1964, he fi rst practiced law before establishing a career in music. His work is not easily categorized, oft en developing out of collaborative projects in theatre, fi lm and video. One of his most signifi cant collaborators is the internationally acclaimed artist, William Kentridge. His music to Kentridge’s animated fi lms, and multimedia installations, has been heard in some of the most prestigious museums and galleries all over the world, including MoMA, SFMOMA, The Guggenheim Museums (both New York and Berlin) La Fenice Opera House and the Tate Modern. Out of this collaboration, the live concert series Nine Drawings for Projection and Sounds from the Black Box has evolved, touring Australia, the UK, Germany, Italy, Belgium, France and the US.
In 2007, Miller conceived and composed Rewind, a Cantata for voice, tape and testimony, an award- winning choral work, based on the testimonies of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. The cantata had its international debut in New York at the Celebrate Brooklyn Festival and has been performed at the Williams College 62 Centre for Theatre and Dance, the Market Theatre, Johannesburg, and the Royal Festival Hall, London.
In 2008, Miller’s sound installation Special Boy was selected as a fi nalist for Spier Contemporary, a major, national art exhibition in South Africa. Amongst his more recent commissions, Miller’s composition Can you hear that? was performed for the New Yorkbased Ensemble Pi in 2009. He has released many CDs of his music which include: Rewind, a Cantata for voice, tape and testimony, William Kentridges’ 9 Drawings for Projection, Black Box/ Chambre Noire, The Thula Project, African Soundscapes and Shona Malanga.