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 hope is that, [as] people walk the extent of these 500 meters, they will see images of the history they find both familiar and transformed in some way. And this will reflect the complex way in which a city is represented… We are trying to find the triumph in the lament and the lament in the triumph, putting together a sense of history from fragments.”William Kentridge