In 2016, and for some years prior, William Kentridge was at work on a monumental frieze, called Triumphs and Laments: A Project for Rome, to be installed along the banks of the Tiber River. The work was designed to span 550 metres of an embankment of the river on Piazza Tevere: a procession of 55 drawings delving into the history of Rome from ancient times to the present, integrated with references to current world happenings, which open up conversations about the nature of history and how it is recorded; our capacity to remember, and to forget. For each drawing a stencil was created around which the surface of the wall was pressure-cleaned, leaving behind an image drawn in residue grime. As the natural environmental effects of pollution and bacteria amass once again on the wall, the images are erased.
The Universal Archive began at the David Krut Workshop in 2012 and is made up of linocuts printed onto non-archival 1950s dictionary and encyclopaedia paper. The series contains over 70 individual images. Many of which represent recurring motifs commonly seen in Kentridge’s art, ink drawings, sculptures and stage productions. They depict everyday images, such as coffee pots, trees, cats, female nudes, typewriters, horses and birds.
In December 2006 Jillian Ross, Master Printer of the David Krut Workshop (DKW), began her collaboration with William Kentridge on a series of prints that was to elaborate on Kentridge’s work on the Shostakovich opera The Nose, commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, New York, to premiere in March 2010. Shostakovich’s opera is based on one of the most famous stories in Russian literature, Nikolai Gogol’s The Nose, published in 1837. The story follows the adventures of the pompous government official Kovalyov who wakes up one day to find that his nose has left his face and gone walking around St Petersburg. The prints were imagined as the journey of the Nose. They reflect on music, ballet, the history of Western art and the various fortunes of the Communist parties in South Africa and the Soviet Union.
In 2010 Eben Sadie of Sadie Family Wines – a small, prestigious winery based in the southern Swartland, inland from Elands Bay on the Cape West Coast of South Africa – released a limited edition of six wines made using grapes harvested from vines that were planted in around 1900. The wine collection is called the Ouwingerdreeks (Old Vine Series) and the winery approached William Kentridge to create labels that would correspond with the fineness of the wines. The six images that Kentridge created for the labels are a combination of ink wash drawings and collage. In January 2010, Kentridge came into the David Krut Workshop to discuss the possibilities of translating the drawings into a series of etchings with Master Printer Jillian Ross – a movement between media that is common within Kentridge’s practice. The five etchings in the series that resulted build upon and modify the drawings on which they are based.