William Kentridge’s ‘Right into Her Arms’

Hard01_3821_01Jeremy Harding at The London Review of Books:

The most recent of William Kentridge’s works on display in Thick Time at the Whitechapel Gallery (until 15 January) is called Right into Her Arms. It’s also one of the best. A raised stage, three metres long, about a metre high, is dressed with a flimsy backdrop of beige, brown, grey; here and there are torn swatches of yellow, green and maroon. At first we seem to see an austere Kurt Schwitters collage from the early 1920s. Close up, we discover unadorned cardboard, plain or coloured card. The wings of the stage are decorated with pages from a dictionary. Front of stage are two rectangular, mobile panels, MDF or cork, decorated like the rest and attached to a guide rail that runs along the top of the proscenium. They are driven left and right by an electric motor, or angled, or made to pirouette through 360 degrees. Mostly they trundle to and fro; on occasion they whizz or flounce; once or twice they cross.

The show, which lasts 11 minutes, consists of a recorded montage of images, still and moving, beamed onto this protean set from a projector: ink splashes, ink and charcoal drawings, fragments of libretto and video outtakes, all retrieved from the workshop of ideas, materials and players that Kentridge put together for his production of Lulu, performed at the Met last year and coming to ENO on 9 November. Right into Her Arms restages the conception, design and history of the production as a kinetic notebook, full of surprise and comedy. As the panels go this way and that, the projected images are refracted across two, sometimes three planes. The little play reaches its climax over a soundtrack of Webern and Schoenberg and a recital by Kentridge of passages from Schwitters’s sound poem Ursonate.

more here.