Refuse the Hour

  • Theatre
  • Music
  • Dance
  • Video
  • Show
The 2012 archive

William Kentridge

Johannesburg / Created in 2012

La Négation du temps © Christophe Raynaud de Lage / Festival d'Avignon


Is it possible to materialize time on a stage? To answer this question, it is at the line between art and science that William Kentridge carries us along in the company of the physicist Peter Galison, a Harvard professor. Using this dialogue as a starting point, he designed an exhibition for the major contemporary art event, the Documenta of Kassel, in June 2012 and, at the same time, a show for the Festival d'Avignon. With the composer Philip Miller, the choreographer Dada Masilo and the video-maker Catherine Meyburgh, he brings together actors, dancers and singers in this show and plunges them into a world or objects drawn from his unbridled imagination or simply from our daily life, but also diverted from their primary function. Through this world of sounds, songs and images in all their forms – drawings, films, photos –, three times are questioned: Newton's absolute time, Einstein's relative time as well as the distortion of space-time, created by the “black hole” phenomenon, subjects as so many metaphors. Because Refuse the Hour is not an illustration of these questions through artistic means but the construction of stories, scripts, brilliantly combining scientific abstractions and very tangible spectacular phenomena. It is through this confrontation of elements composing his performance that William Kentridge moves his project forward and builds it: the men are confronted with the machines they handle, Berlioz's notes harmonize with those of African music, Méliès' films go back in time... In this way an overflow is produced that makes it possible to go very much beyond the single scientific notion of time to take an interest in that of the destiny as well as the pressure that time exerts on our contemporary societies, without forgetting to question colonial time, that time that separated the colonies from the “mother country”. Decidedly poetic, William Kentridge's work then appears closely intertwined with politics. A white citizen of an African country, he constantly makes his art the place for a vision of a possible and real change in human behaviours. Without the least nihilism, he offers, through this new dreamscape, a possibility for abolishing the lines between art and science so that they interpret and re-imagine, together, the too often threatening world that surrounds us. JFP


conception and text William Kentridge
music Philip Miller
choreography Dada Masilo
video Catherine Meyburgh
dramaturgy Peter Galison
scenography Sabine Theunissen
movement Luc de Wit
musical conductor Adam Howard
costumes Greta Goiris
machines Christoff Wolmarans, Louis Olivier, Jonas Lundquist 
lighting Urs Schoenebaum

with Joanna Dudley, William Kentridge, Dada Masilo, Ann Masina, Donatienne Michel-Dansac, Thato Motlhaolwa, Bahm Ntabeni
and the musicians Waldo Alexander, Adam Howard, Tlale Makhene, Philip Miller, Vincenzo Pasquariello, Dan Selsick, Thobeka Thukane



executive production Tomorrowland
coproduction Festival d'Avignon, Holland Festival (Amsterdam), RomaEuropa Festival/Teatro di Roma (Roma), Onassis Cultural Center (Athens)
with the support of Marian Goodman Gallery (New York - Paris), Lia Rumma Gallery (Naples - Milano), The Goodman Gallery (Johannesburg - Le Cap), the Goethe-Institut (South Africa) and of the Institut français

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