In a comfortable setting, tucked at the back of the bookstore, William Kentridge and Jane Taylor had what seemed to be a casual conversation between two friends about their collaborative work. Taylor guided the conversation by drawing on her discoveries about Kentridge and his work with The Nose (Dmitri Shostakovitch’s opera), which prompted Kentridge to discuss various aspects of his process.
The discussion began about the opera and the modern allegory of the story it tells, which is further elaborated in the book. The conversation was centred on Kentridge’s unique methods of art making as Taylor interrogated how they serve his mode of expression as an artist. The incorporation of playfulness and absurdity – which he reveals allows his work to find itself in a random but logical manner – is influenced by the impossibility of the story told in The Nose. The book itself is rich in footnotes, engaging the reader deeply with the many influences and discoveries Taylor made whilst writing the book. She considers the footnotes an etymology of each idea, probing as far as she can into their individual complexities.
The audience enjoyed the rare opportunity to listen to these two notable figures engage in conversation, the most memorable moment being Kentridge’s delivery of an extract of a Kurt Shwitters Dadaist sound poem after Taylor’s encouragement. It was truly an inspiring morning of conversation for the launch of an insightful book about one of the most prolific artists by art historian Jane Taylor.