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Wexner Center for the Arts: William Kentridge - The Refusal of Time

  • Wexner Center for the Arts 1871 North High Street Columbus, OH, 43210 United States (map)

“A great artist working at the peak of his powers”—Boston Globe

Experience the fusion of art, science, and history, and explore thought-provoking ideas about time in this spectacularly immersive installation by acclaimed artist William Kentridge. Combining projections of his evocative, often-humorous hand-drawn animations and live-action sequences with music and sculpture, The Refusal of Time is as visually stunning as it is mind-opening.


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The project evolved from Kentridge’s conversations with Harvard professor Peter Galison about revolutions in the conception of time around the dawn of the 20th century—from Albert Einstein’s radical theory of relativity to new attempts to standardize time, a means of asserting control and fortifying colonization. The latter is an ongoing theme for Kentridge, who lives and works in South Africa.

For The Refusal of Time, Kentridge transforms the space of a gallery into a vibrant theater of activity where you’ll move among screens, dispersed crates and chairs, large megaphones, and at the center, a mysteriously imposing wooden device. Appearing to breathe, the machine seems to power the images and sounds that fill your senses.

Hypnotic, mesmerizing, and rich in its ambiguity, the work is a poetic investigation into humanity’s journey through time as an act of resistance and rebellion—against imposed worldviews as well as our own mortality. As Kentridge said of the work, it’s a search for “moments of coherence, of understanding and changing the world, which is the most we can hope for.”