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WA opened artist to meaning of time
The West Australian

William Kentridge can attest that time waits for no one, having squeezed a whistlestop Perth visit into his busy international schedule.

Time can be seen marching on in Kentridge's keystone Perth Festival art installation, a powerhouse combination of a big timber "breathing machine", multi-track video projections and megaphones on tripods.

The Refusal of Time is a frenetic, multi-sensory experience that fills the entire main gallery at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts until April.

The Art Gallery of WA brought the work for more than $600,000 last year. Other buyers of the edition of five include the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Inspired by theories of relativity, The Refusal of Time examines the elusive nature of time. It races through rising and falling nations, industries and people using animation, silent films, music and the pulse of the machine.

"I don't think time sits on my shoulders more than anyone else," said Kentridge on a stop-over between his native South Africa and Korea, where he is opening another exhibition.

"The project was trying to discover where does it sit in me," he said. "What is my sense of agency and sense of powerlessness against fate and time? Time marches on."

Kentridge, 58, traced the origins of his masterwork to an exhibition in Perth in 2002.

That show at the Art of Gallery of WA, curated by Trevor Smith, associated his artwork with the silent movies of Buster Keaton.

"It was the first time anyone had said there could be that kind of connection between silent film and my work," he said.

"That exhibition made me rethink a lot of things.

"A lot of the work is indebted to thinking about Buster Keaton and early cinema.

"I have good reason to be grateful for that curatorship."

The show, which runs almost 30 minutes, might overwhelm some viewers initially but Kentridge said people should immerse themselves in the experience. "Don't be scared to keep moving around the exhibition," he said.

Kentridge also gave a sold-out talk in Perth, an almost unheard of achievement for a visual artist.