If there is a repeat of the performance that opened the artwork on Rome's 2,769th birthday, April 21, 2016, don't miss that either. The music and "projections" were spell-binding.
The theme of "triumphs" and "laments" is presented by Kentridge in his main mode: the drawing of people and animals in black and white. We were fortunate to see a few of Kentridge's videos, in this same style, in the path-breaking 2015 video exhibition at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo). Here in Rome, the marrying of Kentridge's style with the subject matter of 2700 year-old Rome and the blackened 57-foot high walls of the Tevere (Tiber River) are quite frankly a thing of beauty.
|Rome's lupa or she-wolf... here, instead of the infant twins Romulus|
and Remus, Kentridge presents amphorae, or water jugs.
|Kentridge's interpretation of La Dolce Vita.|
Marcello Mastroanni and Anita Ekberg
are in a bathtub, under a shower, in place of the
Trevi Fountain. Kentridge also makes heavy use
of carts and wheels (as here), perhaps signifying
travel through time.
A 10-Euro booklet provides a guide to the 1/3-mile wall of art, as well as explains the techniques for making these enormous figures. If that isn't available, hopefully some of this explanation will be online. Even without it, the work is tremendously powerful.
|The iconic Vespa is at the center of this procession.|
|Giordano Bruno, represented by Kentridge|
through his statue in Campo de' Fiori
The music for these opening performances, composed by Philip Miller, used a variety of music types, from liturgical songs of the late Renaissance to West African slave songs, to ancient Southern Italian songs. Frankly, the 4 of us (we and 2 of our good Roman friends) could not truly "understand" the music, and I'm not sure we were supposed to, but we did pick out the religious music, the African music, and the Italian folk music - we knew there was a confluence of musical types. The sounds of triumph and lamentation were superimposed on each other. It's an experience one was immersed in, rather than must or should have comprehended in its entirety at the time.
Hopefully the music too will be available in some form in the future. Meanwhile, we will leave you with a link to our video of 30 seconds of the April 22 performance.
The making of the wall art, if we can use such simple words to describe it, is fascinating as well. We were in Rome in 2005 when Kristin Jones first presented her "lupa" - actually several "lupe" on the walls of the Tevere in this spot. She created them by erasing the background to produce the white, leaving the dirty walls to provide the figures themselves. This same technique was used by Kentridge, who was inspired by, coached by, and encouraged by Jones, who is billed as the Artistic Director of the project. We also need to give a shout-out to "Tevereterno", the non-profit organization that presented this as well as Jones's work in 2005, and has been working hard and long to reclaim the Tevere, under the direction of architect Tom Rankin.
Because the work depends on the erasure of dirt from the walls, the walls will in time become dirty again, and the black figures will appear to fade into the darkening walls. That's the reason we suggest you might have only about 4 years from now to see this magnificent, ephemeral, work.
|Joggers using the Tevere's bike and walking path, with Kentridge's|
art as a backdrop.
|Some of the hundreds of observers of the April 22, 2016 performance, from the left bank of the Tevere.|