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Art21: First Look (2 of 20)
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This video is excerpted from the Season 5 episode Compassion premiering on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 10pm (ET) on PBS (check local listings). Compassion features three artists—William Kentridge, Doris Salcedo, and Carrie Mae Weems—whose works explore conscience and the possibility of understanding and reconciling past and present, while exposing injustice and expressing tolerance for others. William Kentridge was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1955, where he lives and works. Having witnessed first-hand one of the twentieth century’s most contentious struggles—the dissolution of apartheid—Kentridge brings the ambiguity and subtlety of personal experience to public subjects most often framed in narrowly defined terms. Using film, drawing, sculpture, animation, and performance, he transmutes sobering political events into powerful poetic allegories. In a now-signature technique, he photographs his charcoal drawings and paper collages over time, recording scenes as they evolve. Working without a script or storyboard, he plots out each animated film, preserving every addition and erasure. Aware of myriad ways in which we construct the world by looking, Kentridge uses stereoscopic viewers and creates optical illusions with anamorphic projection to extend his drawings-in-time into three dimensions.

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