Collection Artwork
William Kentridge (born Johannesburg, South Africa, 1955)
Tango for Page Turning
Single-channel HD video
Philip Miller (born London, United Kingdom, 1964)
Joanna Dudley
Snezana Marovic
Tang purchase in partnership with the New Media Arts Consortium, a collaboration of the art museums at Bowdoin College, Brandeis University, Colby College, Middlebury College, Mount Holyoke College, and Skidmore College

Object Label

“There’s both a pessimistic and optimistic future, and one has to understand that contradiction, and that contradictory future is where we are.”
—William Kentridge

Charcoal and pencil drawings depict dancer/choreographer Dada Masilo (born 1985; active Johannesburg) and William Kentridge performing a tango as pages of antique books turn, and forms, figures, and words emerge and vanish, sometimes slowly, sometimes suddenly. At times, the dancers’ own forms double across the pages, though never in unison, a delay referencing Einstein’s theory of relativity, which states that space and time are fluid rather than fixed.

William Kentridge draws and paints, cuts and collages, tears down and builds up; the sound, too, involves a process of fragmentation and reassembly. Composed by Philip Miller (born 1964; active Cape Town), it features jumbled lyrics from Hector Berlioz’s Le Spectre de la Rose, focusing on the in-between moments of song. Together, the image and sound offer an allegory for our constantly transforming, moving world. The metaphor moves in specific ways, too: Kentridge, a Jewish South African, witnessed firsthand the atrocities of apartheid, government-sanctioned racial segregation and discrimination, as well as its breakdown in the 1990s and the subsequent rebuilding and struggles of his home country.

From the exhibition: Beauty and Bite (July 20, 2019 – January 19, 2020)

Ongoing Research

Research on our collection is ongoing. If you have resources you’d like to share, please contact Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara.
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