Shadows of the Pasts

Triumphs and Laments by William Kentridge is a large-scale 500-meter-long frieze, blown with high-pressure erasers from the ‘biological patina on the travertine embankment walls that line Rome’s urban waterfront.” The work, which the masterful Kentridge documents in an exhibition of his sketches and stencils on display at the enviable Macro Museo d’Arte e Contemporanea Roma, reveals the dominant tensions in the history of the Eternal City from past to present. Its figures, up to 10 meters high, which represent Rome’s greatest victories and defeats from mythological time to present, form a silhouetted procession on Piazza Tevere, between Ponte Sisto and Ponte Mazzini (see photo below from The Huffington Post for a snippet of the impressive scale).

 

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The Macro exhibit includes huge and small drawings and models of the six-year-long process. And while the rooms are spare, they provide all the background conceptual and intellectual fodder to help appreciate this massive public art project. A few videos help in appreciating Kentridge’s serious wit that contextualizes this mammoth accomplishment. The most captivating of all the videos can only be seen at the Macro, but don’t miss Kentridge’s salty argument with himself.

 

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