William Kentridge b. 1955
The following interview is taken from www.onepeople.com, 1998: William Kentridge Answers a Few Questions
Question 1: Your works appear very labor intensive. How long did it take you to create "Stereoscope?" Can you talk a little bit about the significance of your laborious process and how you maintain momentum and focus?
The work is very labor intensive. "Stereoscope" took 9 months to make - with some breaks for travel and exhibitions during that period. It takes a long time because there is no script or storyboard - the ideas are worked out in the making. In the construction of Stereoscope, most of the first four months work had to be abandoned.
WK: Momentum - because the work is so slow, unless one works fast and intensely, the project would never get finished. So one has to begin each day running. Making the film is about finding the focus, finding what the film is about. If the film had been storyboarded, it would be difficult to maintain focus; but because it is thought out as it is done, that becomes part of the subject.
Question 2: The music in "Stereoscope" is very striking. Was it composed specifically for the work? If so, were you involved in that process?
WK: Music. Philip Miller, a South African composer, wrote the music for the film. He has written music for four of my films. His involvement comes at quite an early stage - after a couple of months, when there are a few minutes of rushes to look at, we sit look at them at an editing table, with different pieces of music - anything from Monteverdi to jazz - and try to understand the musical grammar of the film. From then on we work closely, and the music becomes more and more precise as the film nears completion.
Question 3: Are the recurring elements (like the cat and the blue line, etc.) in your work symbolic of something? They seemed meaningful, but I wasn't sure of what.
WK: Re the cat and blue line. I never start with a meaning, so cannot tell you what the cat symbolizes, if anything - I simply knew that I needed a cat at that moment of the film. Blue lines are simply a literal drawing of different lines of communication in the film.
Question 4: Why did you choose to use a split screen in some parts of the video?
WK: Come on! The film is called "Stereoscope," a machine that needs two separate images to make one three-dimensional view. Any more clues needed?
Question 5: Was "Stereoscope" inspired by specific events in South African history?
WK: No specific events in South African history. The section of chaos in the city towards the end of the film contains images from newspapers and TV from the weeks in which I was working on that part - police beating students in Jakarta, Indonesia; riots outside banks in Moscow, Russia; rebels being thrown over a bridge, and then shot at in the river below, Kinshasa, Congo; someone picking up rubble to throw at a building - US embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. But of course the images are all of Johannesburg.