William Kentridge, Thick Time to 3rd March 2019 Whitworth, Manchester
I first saw Thick Time at the Whitechapel and was, to coin a phrase, blown away. What a treat to see it again a couple of years later, after its world tour. This is art that is wholly contemporary but doesn’t fall into today’s nihilistic trap of conceptual futility. The centrepiece of the show is a large, wooden machine which serves as a timepiece, a beating heart, a regulated, pulsing piston of movement marking time on the chaos all around it. That chaos is projected onto the walls on three sides of the gallery. Against the walls stand boards which break up the images, dissecting the projections with shadows and disjointed perspectives. The image sequence lasts about 20 minutes and is held together by the march of time, at one point, in Kentridge’s signature motif, a procession rhythmically parades around the walls with all sorts of instruments, not necessarily musical. In another sequence, a voice talks of science and the mystery science reveals, at other times Kentridge himself floats in stop-time motion from one screen to another. This is all perhaps an insight into the bending of space-time, Kentridge’s very own general theory of relativity. I have to say that I was pleased that due to the layout of the whole exhibition, this gallery was slightly off the beaten track and I guess not all visitors were aware of it, so from a purely selfish point of view I had it all to myself. Bliss. I can’t say much more. Kentridge is in my pantheon of greats and my words are but pale simulacrums of ineffable admiration.