A Mechanical Masterpiece


William Kentridge, one of South Africa's most acclaimed contemporary visual artists, gained international stardom at Documenta X (1997), where he exhibited part of his animated film series about living through the apartheid and post-apartheid eras in Johannesburg. The hand-drawn films were produced using charcoal and pastel drawings in stop-motion, which left beautiful traces of erasure and redrawing. While working on a design for 'The Magic Flute,' his recent operatic adventure, Kentridge built a small-scale stage model to test his projections. This petite provocation became the basis for his current Deutsche Guggenheim commission. Visitors to the Berlin site can take-in Kentridge's new short 'play,' staged within a miniature mechanical theatre and starring animatronic coffee pots who gesture in Italian, menacing kitchen appliances, and other lively characters, all rendered in his very recognizable, witty style. 'Black Box/Chambre Noire' will run through January 15. Chances are, you've never heard a coffee pot sing quite like this before. - nathaniel stern