drawing from Felix in Exile, William Kentridge
charcoal, pastel, and gouache, 120 x 160 cm
Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev - You've often said that everything you do is drawing, and that you see drawing as a model for knowledge.
William Kentridge - What does it mean to say that something is a drawing - as opposed to a fundamentally different form, such as a photograph? First of all, arriving at the image is a process, not a frozen instant. Drawing for me is about fluidity. There may be a vague sense of what you're going to draw but things occur during the process that may modify, consolidate or shed doubts on what you know. So drawing is a testing of ideas; a slow-motion version of thought. It does not arrive instantly like a photograph. The uncertain and imprecise way of constructing a drawing is sometimes a model of how to construct meaning. What ends in clarity does not begin that way.
Christov-Bakargiev - So although you said at the beginning of this interview that for you drawing can become a self-centred process, drawing does not justify itself per se.
Kentridge - No, but I believe that in the indeterminacy of drawing, the contingent way that images arrive in the work, lies some kind of model of how we live our lives. The activity of drawing is a way of trying to understand who we are or how we operate in the world. It is in the strangeness of the activity itself that can be detected judgement, ethics and morality. Trains of thought that seem to be going somewhere but can't quite be brought to a conclusion. If there were to be a very clear, ethical or moral summing-up in my work, it would have a false authority.
from an interview in William Kentridge published by Phaidon