Thick Time requires time. This is an extensive and challenging multimedia and multi-sensory exhibition; abundant, but not in the prosaic ‘back catalog’ vibe of London's formulaic, workaday retrospective offerings, nor in the number of pieces (in total there are six); balanced for the space by Whitechapel’s gallery Director and regular curator Iwona Blazwick.
More fittingly - as Kentridge’s exploration is of time and not space - his looped installations are generous in their range of layered video and sonar compositions, and offer a patient exhibition-attendee the blue-chip reward of multiple, fluctuating, cleverly subjective and constantly differing audiovisual outcomes.
Working in parallel, the sculptural elements within these installations are at once reminiscent of fanciful and impossible Edwardian inventions, of humorous and anarchic Heath Robinson-like contraptions and under-lacing it all an allusion to more sinister, suspiciously autonomous, self-ruling robotic instruments; agenda unknown, but one finds oneself spiritedly imagining they are almost certainly malevolent. Like his videowork, Kentridge’s machines are generous in sheer scale and mechanical intricacy - conversely both erratic and systematic - and again materially flawed and satisfyingly inexact in their cyclical repetitions.
To ingest and digest Thick Time you will undoubtedly need time, but moreover you will desire it; cultivate and pursue it, in order that you might masticate over those clever off-beat defects. With luck you will move quickly past your immediate habitual urgency, and fall into slow step with the luminous turbulence and gratifyingly gradual complexities of each of Kentridge’s ambrosial examinations.
But quick; ends this Sunday.
William Kentridge: Thick Time @ Whitechapel Gallery
21 September 2016 – 15 January 2017