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Review: William Kenridge & Kyle Shepherd

24th February 20

Julia Taylor

Excited whispers and murmurs filtered out into the Labia Theatre as people queued in anticipation for the collaboration between William Kentridge, a giant in the visual arts world and Kyle Shepherd, who is a leader in his field of music. A hush fell over the audience as the lights dimmed, a last excited gasp released as the projector and first few keys were played.

I had never attended a collaboration like this before, and watching the relationship of sound, word and image merge into an enigmatic and exciting experience was truly moving. Kentridge, as always, captivates his self-reflective journey through his expressive and gestural style in his animated films. Focusing on the agonising nature of aging and selective memory, as well as exploring the injustice and abuse of industrial mining, Shepherd accompanies these themes with his bewitching and emotive musical talent. Standing next to Kentridge, one would assume Shepherd would be an after-thought, but how absolutely incorrect I was. He stood in his own right, elevating the experience to new heights. Shepherd not only enhanced, but brought a new, intoxicating element to Kentridge’s work.

There was a moment where the clear relationship between the two came together in a way that could only be described as a form of reverence. The film showing the agonising, anxiety-riddled realisation of death and aging could not have reached those heights without Shepherds manic, beautifully-played rifts that transcended the soul into frenzy, before slowly lulling us back into calmness as the moment passed.

A true, worthy collaboration of each other, Kentridge and Shepherd is a powerful duo that I hope to see work together more often. While this run of their show has ended, keep your eyes out for more collaborations in the future; perhaps you too could be transported by a short but stunningly-impactful meeting of the two great artistic talents.

This event was organised by Slow Life, a South African music promotion and production company. Find out more about Slow Life here.
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