Sunday Evening Reflection: More Sweetly Play the Dance

More Sweetly Play the Dance, William Kentridge

Edmonton, Alberta: September 2019

Sunday morning, September 1, 2019, was one of those brilliant autumn sunshine days that I remembered so well from my days living in Edmonton, Alberta, the city known as the “Gateway to the North”. We were the first to arrive at the Art Gallery of Alberta, situated on Sir Winston Churchill Square in the heart of the Arts District in downtown Edmonton. 

This was not the Art Gallery of Alberta building that I recalled from my days at University of Alberta.   Everything had changed, as it does when one has been away for several years. My memory was of a building that showcased the Brutalist architecture style characterized by minimalist construction of bare building materials and visible structural elements.  Now, we were looking at what was described as “juxtaposed angular windows against a winding 190-metre steel ribbon that references the forms of the North Saskatchewan River and Aurora Borealis.” The architect, Randall Stout, gave a shout out to Edmonton’s unique northern environment and urban grid.

We were there to see the major solo exhibition of the work of South African artist William Kentridge, which had opened in June 2019 and would be closing in a few short days on September 15, 2019.  The Sunday morning early arrival meant that we would avoid the rush of visitors, which would allow for a more relaxed and prolonged view of the exhibition.

The exhibition was extraordinary, profound, and unforgettable.   Photography was permitted so please join me on my Sunday Evening Reflection, William Kentridge: Procession.

Internationally renowned for his prints, drawings, and animated films, Kentridge has received numerous awards and major recognitions around the world. Born in Johannesburg during the time of apartheid, his work explores the politics of power and resistance in expressive and poetic form.

The main feature of the exhibition will be More Sweetly Play the Dance, a multi-sensory environment in which viewers are surrounded by depictions of people projected at human scale. This procession, a seemingly endless parade of people from various walks of life, will be presented in a 100-foot-long frieze of moving image and sound.

William Kentridge: Procession

30 Comments Add yours

  1. Ms Frances says:

    Thank you, again, for your Sunday Reflections, always so informative and interesting. We will be celebrating this one, very soon in September, a video-a William Kentridge Procession, that you took and saved for history. Thank you! I also listened again to the three related ones ones on the bottom. Always good to listen again. Your Sunday reflections are treasures, really! Thank you

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      So glad you enjoyed the post, Frances. I am going to put together a video on the Art Gallery building as well – the building was amazing and the exhibitions exciting. I’m glad we were there when it first opened, because it wasn’t long before there was a line up at the entrance. The gallery is currently closed but there are wonderful videos that have been posted about their current exhibitions. Stay tuned….

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Klausbernd says:

    Dear Rebecca,
    thanks a lot for sharing this video. We haven’t seen any of Kentridge’s art before. The architecture of the Art Gallery of Alberta seems to be quite special as well. We would like to read about it more.
    Wishing our dear friend a great week. Hugs and lots of love
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      You would appreciate the architecture of the new building, although I really enjoyed the last iteration, with its solid construction and structure. It had been years since I have visited the Art Gallery of Alberta, which was originally called Edmonton Art Gallery. For me, there is a nostalgic feeling going back to a place where events and choices led to the next step, and reflect on how the years evolved based on those decision points. “More Sweetly Play the Dance” mirrored these thoughts as I watched the procession, and joined in on the dance, quite literally. Being in a room without people, and yet with people added to the dynamics of our experience. Storytelling, words, poetry, art, music are the best ways in which to “experience” a message. Thank you so much for your comments and visit – very very much appreciated. Much love and hugs coming to my dear friends, The Fab Four of Cley.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Dave Astor says:

    Wow, Rebecca — this exhibit looks like it was absolutely incredible. Mesmerizing to see it in your excellent post; I can imagine what it must have been like in person.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      The exhibition was more than I imagined it would be. Visual storytelling envelops, doesn’t it? It brings out the imagination, livens all senses, and create a space for reflection in the midst of motion, words, sounds. We hear, feel, and intuitively acknowledge a call to action. In the midst of noise, it is the still small voice that changes the world. So glad that you joined me – Canada isn’t that far away, is it???

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Oh my God this is beautiful . This is how art should be displayed. A true window on the world. It is wonderful how places have reinvented themselves too, so that now this kind of display is possible. My home city has also totally done that and it is great.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I have always considered these questions: How do I change? How do I influence others to embrace change? The last question sounds positive, doesn’t it? But I have come to think that when I ask that question, it really means, how do I influence people to change the way I would like them to change. So I come back to the first, and more important, question – how do I change, but add “in a way that bring positive actions, and the environment to creative compassionate communities.” As I look back, I have changed because of the books that I have read, the music that accompanied my day, the art, poetry, dance that graced my life – those have been the catalysts of progress to a greater understanding of who I am and my place within a wider narrative. This exhibition allowed me to imagine myself in a different time, location and culture. Art shows us the world, and we are forever changed. Thank you for joining me in Edmonton Alberta, on an autumn day of sunshine.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Thank you for letting me sit by your side on such a day and see the world with a lady who asks the right questions every day in her life because she has leaned from each of these days. IF we cannot be changed by all that surrounds us then the world would be a poorer place. Our worlds certainly would.

        Liked by 3 people

  5. Mary Jo Malo says:

    I can imagine what a powerful experience this must have been in person. Kentridge truly does “explore the politics of power and resistance in expressive and poetic form.” I would have had a hard time resisting the futile urge to dance along, with tears flowing too. This was a perfect venue for More Sweetly Play the Dance which is one of those rich mixed media forms that requires multiple viewings in order to grasp its fullness…so many images! I will return to it throughout today.

    Albert Camus believed quite strongly, against his existentialist comrades, that art is the only true resistance, because it is individual and constructive. Art is an arrow let loose into the world with its true target unknown. Artistic rebellion vs. violent revolution. Thank you again for sharing this experience! Hugs across the miles…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      It was a very interesting to experience being in a room without people, but with people. I confess that I danced along. While I believe that elevated discourse and debate is essential, I share your thought that art, poetry, music have the power to change the hearts and minds of a collective. Art does not tell us what we should do, or demand that we change our values or dictate how we should act. Art has a much more powerful influence because it invites our imagination to see an alternative journey, that we are a participant in a wider story. We see the world and feel a connection beyond time and location. Art opens the borders, which both frightens and excites because we have been changed. Thank you for joining me in the Dance! Hugs coming back with all speed.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Mary Jo Malo says:

        So eloquently said!!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Mary Jo, I particularly appreciate your comments about Camus’ view that art is the only true resistance. I firmly believe it, which is why I insisted on including creative expression through the arts as a critical perspective on social justice to be included in the new course I’ve been working on. What I find somewhat ironic is that there seems to be a lack of faith on the part of The Academy in the arts’ power to bring about social change without theorizing and politicizing it. Experiencing the arts and then reflecting on that experience is enough. Not only enough, but the whole point.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Clanmother says:

        Very well said, Liz!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thank you, Rebecca!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Mary Jo Malo says:

        Best of luck to you in establishing this important course! It took me years to completely read Camus’ The Rebel, because I needed a more comprehensive historical, literary, and philosophical foundation. Ultimately it was akin to acquiring degrees in these. But we have seen all three disciplines, as well as most of the humanities, yield to business and political agendas. The power of the arts? Yes!

        Liked by 3 people

      4. Clanmother says:

        Ah, Mary Jo, – yes art!!! In all the noise and confusion of life, artistic expression is the voice of encouragement, of challenge, of movement. In the midst of uncertainty, it is the still small voice that changes the world. Thank you for your gift of poetry!! Hugs and more hugs.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Thank you, Mary Jo. The stakes are now even higher when when we started.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Sarah Ahmadi says:

    Love it, Rebecca!!!! I look forward to Monday mornings and seeing what creative spirit has struck you!!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      And I look forward to our many discussions on “The Book Dialogue.” By the way, the Fathers Day video on Pro Arte’s Instagram was remarkable.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is really amazing, Rebecca, and the William Kentridge ‘Procession’ of particular interest, as he is South African and lives in Johannesburg where I lived for over forty years. How wonderful that his exhibition found its way over to your beautiful art gallery in Alberta. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I was thinking of you as I wrote up this post yesterday. South Africa is an amazing country – still on my “bucket list” to see when travel comes back. When I was looking up the history of Johannesburg, and the gold rush, I was reminded of British Columbia’s gold rush, and the activity that accompanied the discovery. What I most enjoyed about this exhibition is the dancing that brought together a community. Even in the most difficult of transitions, the power of gratitude, of expressing our creativity allows us to move ever more forward to a greater understanding. I love the quote your used in your podcast: “Without music, life would be a mistake.” Friedrich Nietzsche. Let’s keep on dancing to the music! Hugs and more hugs….

      Liked by 4 people

  8. I had to watch the video twice. The first time, it really looked to me like live actors were dancing in front of a backdrop. When I watched it the second time, I could see it was a film. So, the exhibit definitely worked its magic on me, even viewed on my little Chromebook. How I would love to see it in person. Thank you for the introduction to Kentridge’s work and artistic vision, Rebecca!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      The exhibition is closer to you than to me, now. It is back “home” in Ottawa, Canada – National Gallery of Canada Contemporary Galleries. One day when travel comes back, let’s meet there!!!
      https://www.gallery.ca/whats-on/exhibitions-and-galleries/william-kentridge-more-sweetly-play-the-dance

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That would be fun!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Carolyn Page says:

    What an extraordinary talent, Rebecca. I absolutely enjoyed the video and wish to be able to see this moving art in person – I know I would be entranced. I must mention the music, too. How delightful it was; an altogether fabulous experience!
    Thank You for sharing this. Another wonderful Sunday reflection.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I am delighted that you joined me. I had heard of this exhibition, but was overwhelmed by the emotional vibrancy of music, dance and story telling. I know you would be dancing with me – my feet could not keep still. Hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Resa says:

    OMG! How incredibly unique! Thank you for sharing this, Rebecca! You are a wonderful teacher, in a new age way.
    I did a little self-chuckle….. “We were the first to arrive at the Art Gallery of Alberta,” …. OF course you and yours were! Hugs!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      One day, we will visit the AGO together! I know it will happen and am looking forward to how serendipity will orchestrate the meeting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Resa says:

        Cool! I remember excitedly telling you about this years shows, at the AGO. It all got cancelled due to the virus we are all sick of, but that is not tired of making us sick!
        So, the AGO has re-opened to members and annual pass holders. I am neither, but it’s a start.
        You gave me an idea. Will stew, and report back!

        Liked by 1 person

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