William Kentridge was born in Johannesburg in 1955, and continues to live and work in South Africa. He has gained international recognition for his distinctive animated short films, and for the charcoal drawings he makes in producing them.
7 Fragments for Georges Méliès is a suite of seven films of varying playing lengths, each of which in some way depict the artist at work in his studio, or interacting with one of his signature animated drawings. The suite is presented with two additional works: Day for Night and Journey to the Moon.
7 Fragments for Georges Méliès pays homage to the beginning of filmmaking and, specifically, to French film director Georges Méliès' (Maries Georges Jean Méliès 1861–1938) and his pioneering experiments with special effects, and his performances, in early film works. In the development of illusionistic devices for film, Méliès’ sought to present spectacles of a kind not possible in live theatre. The main protagonist of Kentridge’s films is the artist himself. He incorporates various techniques – reverse motion, animation, cuts and dissolves to suggest the magical quality of the studio, and the manner in which work is brought forth from his imagination onto paper and film. The title of one of the films – Feats of prestidigitation – refers to the act of conjuring.
7 Fragments for Georges Méliès encompasses Kentridge’s meditations on the life of the artist in the studio, and importantly, as a suite of films it encapsulates his practice: drawing, performance, sculpture, animation and film.
Journey to the Moon is the only film in the installation that contains a soundtrack.
Day for night represents the ‘drawing’ made by ants crawling across paper lined with sugar, which when printed in negative turn into visions of the galaxy.