Kentridge addressed a captive crowd at the National Museum in Cape Town
about the use of Shadow in his work on 27 January 2002.
his latest production " Zeno at 4am " and "
Confessions of Zeno " ( currently in progress ), the shadow
play occupies centre stage and is not only used as background as in some
of the previous productions. These productions are a culmination of shadow projections
which William has used in theatre productions with Handspring Puppet
company over several years.
He takes a sheet of black paper, tears it into three or four shapes and place them next to each other...
" Now as a purist I can defy nature, and say these are four abstract shapes of black paper on a white ground, perhaps overlapping. But removing monasticism and
dogmatics, things start to emerge. In this combination they are a dog, in this combination man with a stick, I tilt this piece forward and he ages, I lean it back slightly he gains in arrogance. There is a process happening here of the eye leading – of the eye saying, ‘Let me show you what I know of the world.’ The eye says, ‘This awkwardness in the shape in front of you is someone leaning on an uncomfortable hip.’ If I had started the other way around, and said ‘Let me make a shadow figure f someone with a limp, I would be hard pressed to do it. The best I can do is to set in place strategies to allow this image of a limp to emerge. When Rembrandt draws his woman teaching a child to walk, or Picasso does the same, they are not saying, ‘I know what this looks like and will carry it out,’ they are saying, ’Let me work with a looseness or openness that will allow to emerge what I cannot describe or give instructions for, but I will recognize as it emerges.’ This process is not a preserve of artists, talented or gifted people, it is fundamental to what it is to be sighted in the world, an oscillation between openness and recognition. What shadows as objects, silhouettes or puppets do, is make the mediation conscious. The world of shadows tells us things about seeing invisible by the light of the sun."