William Kentridge’s 9 Drawings for Projection present white characters in the context of apartheid caught between guilt and redemption, with special attention to the intermediate terrain. Felix in Exile, the fifth film, suggests that the dismantling of the structures of white racism requires a long-term excavation of the white psyche. The quest for whites’ full understanding of their apartheid legacy is tricky because of the fine line between self-examination and self-absorption. The later films beautifully dramatize the vulnerability of white characters as they cross the line and blur crucial distinctions. Kentridge’s call for a political art of “ambiguity, contradiction, uncompleted gestures and uncertain endings” has great integrity but may also condone insufficiency and may itself need scrutiny and revision.
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Research Article| May 01 2011
Probing White Guilt, Pursuing White Redemption: William Kentridge’s 9 Drawings for Projection
Peter Erickson, visiting professor of humanities at Williams College since 2007, is author of Patriarchal Structures in Shakespeare’s Drama (1985), Rewriting Shakespeare, Rewriting Ourselves (1991), and Citing Shakespeare: The Reinterpretation of Race in Contemporary Literature and Art (2007). He has coedited Shakespeare’s “Rough Magic” (1985), Early Modern Visual Culture: Representation, Race, and Empire in Renaissance England (2000), and Approaches to Teaching Shakespeare’s “Othello” (2005)
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Nka (2011) 2011 (28): 34–47.
Peter Erickson; Probing White Guilt, Pursuing White Redemption: William Kentridge’s 9 Drawings for Projection. Nka 1 May 2011; 2011 (28): 34–47. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10757163-1266657
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