Kyoto Prize Symposium 2011

William Kentridge (Arts and Philosophy), visual artist, writer, dramatist and filmmaker, speaks about his unique artistic genre that blends drawing, film, philosophy and political commentary.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Shiley Theatre, Camino Hall
University of San Diego

The Inamori Foundation’s 26th Annual Kyoto Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Arts and Philosophy was presented to William Kentridge on November 10, 2010.

Kentridge will show some of his newest film — to be released in New York in May — as part of his lecture for the Kyoto Prize Symposium. It will be shown as a work-in-progress and is an extraordinary opportunity to see the latest in his Soho Eckstein character series.

In the late 1980s, Kentridge began creating his signature animated films known as “drawings in motion,” which reflect the history and social circumstances of South Africa. One of his early creations, a series of films featuring the character Soho Eckstein, tells of the pains inflicted by the history of his home country. This series drew worldwide attention as an artistic work resonating with postcolonial criticism.

Using a simple technique that he himself calls “stone-age filmmaking” — namely, the laborious process of filming, frame by frame, a series of ceaselessly changing charcoal and pastel drawings — Kentridge has injected the traditional technique of drawing into diverse media, including animation, video projection and stage set design. In so doing, he has created a new contemporary vehicle of artistic expression within which various media fuse together in multiple ways. Although his works deal with the history and social circumstances of a specific geographic area, they have acquired universality through their deep insights and profound reflections on the nature of human existence.

Underlying his works and activities is a determination to examine universal issues confronting modern people. He accomplishes this by traveling back through the history of visual expression, persistently questioning such issues as the ways in which people may build a relationship with the world, the ambiguities of goodwill and oppression, and the conflicting and ambivalent disposition of the individual. While remaining in the remote country of South Africa, Kentridge continues to make an impact on contemporary art in Western society. His world, full of sharp intelligence and profound poetry, exerts great influence on other artists — and provides individuals worldwide with courage and hope that their attempts and practices may still be effective and fundamental, even amid the stagnation of our contemporary society, swirling with political and social unrest.

Photographs from the 2011 Kyoto Symposium

William Kentridge at podium
Kyoto Laureates
Kyoto Symposium
Kyoto Symposium