n De Arte - William Kentridge's animated as a post-memorial aesthetic : research

Volume 2014, Issue 90
  • ISSN : 0004-3389
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William Kentridge's series (1989-2003) consists of nine short, animated, charcoal, hand-drawn films, produced during a specific South African cultural and historical period. Kentridge's films have trauma and memory (personal and collective) as their main themes. This article further elucidates Kentridge's works by linking memory and trauma and his representation of the horror of apartheid through the unique term of 'postmemory' (Hirsch 1997). It is this concept that is central to understanding how and why Kentridge is able to document apartheid's atrocities and their traumatic aftermath. Several other seminal concepts from the discourse of memory and trauma have been utilised, for instance, Henri Raczymow's (1994) 'memory shot through with holes'; Geoffrey Hartmann's (2003) 'witnesses by adoption'; Michael Levine's (2006) 'belated witness' and Efraim Sicher's (2004) 'absent memory'. This article, through the discourse of postmemory, has proffered a new interpretation of Kentridge's double-enacted, aesthetic operation of inscription and erasure, as exemplifying the concept of a postmemorial aesthetic. The film is analysed in some detail, followed by further analysis of several of his other films in the series.

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