William Kentridge: More Sweetly Play the Dance – DOUBLE VISION (Kunsthalle Karlsruhe)

William Kentridge: More Sweetly Play the Dance – DOUBLE VISION (Kunsthalle Karlsruhe)

Fri, 09.09.2016 – Sun, 08.01.2017, ZKM_Cube

Free entry

DOUBLE VISION (Kunsthalle Karlsruhe)


Daily from nightfall till midnight

The large-scale panoramic projection »More Sweetly Play the Dance« by South African artist William Kentridge shows a procession of shadowy figures, accompanied by the sounds of a brass band. The dancing skeletons are reminiscent of a mediaeval death dance. Workers swinging flags and carrying banners awake associations with a political demonstration. Musicians and dancing clergymen make one think of religious processions. Last but not least, the procession of people nearly collapsing under the weight of their luggage and personal belongings and who are marching towards an uncertain future and, all too often, death, is reminiscent of the images of refugees we see on a daily basis.

Thus, the motif of the procession becomes a general symbol of movement, the course of history, political change as well as the global flows of refugees. This motif plays a central role in Kentridge’s oeuvre. It appears for the first time in 1989/90, at a time when the apartheid system in South Africa began to be dissolved. The political transformation was accompanied by mass demonstrations, in which Kentridge also participated. The title »More Sweetly Play the Dance« is an allusion to Paul Celan’s famous Todesfuge (Death Fugue) and the line »Play death more sweetly – this Death is a master from Deutschland«. However, Kentridge does not show a mere dance of the dead, but rather shadows passing by Plato’s cave.

William Kentridge, who was born in 1955 and whose parents campaigned for the abolition of apartheid, aims to fight for justice using the means of art, which becomes very clear in his work. The presentation of the work in public space, on the “Platz der Menschenrechte” [“Square of Human Rights”], adds a further important level of significance to it.

The projection is a massive 22 metres long and six metres high. In addition to the superimposition of the media of drawing, shadow theatre, performance, dance, music, film and projection, William Kentridge also employs computer animations in »More Sweetly Play the Dance« for the first time in his artistic work.

The work was produced at the invitation of Peter Weibel and with the support of the lichtsicht 5 Projection-Biennale in Bad Rothenfelde and the EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam.


Peter Weibel (Curator)


About William Kentridge

Year of birth, place

1955, Johannesburg, South Africa


William Kentridge (*1955 in Johannesburg) grew up in South Africa during the apartheid system. He stems from Lithuanian-Jewish heritage, his parents being attorneys who represented people marginalized by the apartheid system. Kentridge studied Politics and African Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand and Fine Arts at the Johannesburg Art Foundation. In the early 1980s, he went to L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris and later worked as actor and director. After he had worked on drawings and prints, Kentridge started producing animation films. These are constructed by filming a drawing, making erasures and changes, and filming it again until a scene is finished. In his works he reflects the history and social conditions of South Africa, in more recent times also the social and cultural grievances which occur with industrialization and political oppression worldwide. In the work process Kentridge superimposes different media, e.g. books, drawing, collage, dance, music, theatrical performance, shadow play, film, computer animation, projection. With each medium change the image is transformed and the result is a complex layering of media and meaning. His works are collected and exhibited by the world’s leading museums. Kentridge has been participant of the Venice Biennale and documenta numerous times.


About us

By extending the original duties of a museum, the ZKM | Center for Art and Media has become a cultural institution unique throughout the world. It is a house for all media and genre, a house for both spatial arts, such as painting, photography, and sculpture as well as time-based arts, such as film, video, media art, music, dance, theater, and performance. ZKM was founded as a museum in 1989 with the mission to perpetuate classical arts in the digital age, which is why it is occasionally referred to as “Electronic or Digital Art Bauhaus,” an expression that can be traced back to Heinrich Klotz. Beyond that, ZKM houses institutes and laboratories that carry out scientific research, development, and production. Alongside the classic guiding principle of a museum, namely, to save artworks from disappearing, ZKM has also taken on the task of creating conditions under which works of art arise; for one, by way of guest artists, and for another, by way of the staff members. For this reason, it is called a center and not a museum.

With the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Media Museum, the Media Library, the Institute for Visual Media, the Institute for Music and Acoustics, and the Laboratory for Antiquated Video Systems, the ZKM has available a wide range of possibilities for developing interdisciplinary projects and international collaboration. In its work, the ZKM brings together production and research, exhibitions and events, and mediation and documentation. The ZKM is thus capable of a suitable response to the rapid development of information technology and transformation of social structures. As “Mecca of Media Arts” (Peter Weibel), the ZKM deals in theory and practice with innovations in communication and information technologies, the subsequently unleashed options for art, and the social transformations thereby set in motion.

By combining archive and collections, exhibitions and events, research and production, the ZKM is able to aptly illustrate art’s development in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; no least due to the symposia and other platforms for theoretical discourse between philosophy, science, art, politics, and the economy that accompany its collection, exhibition, and research activities

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