This comparative study of contemporary artists William Kentridge (born 1955) and Nalini Malani (born 1946) focuses on their use of the shadow play as a medium of memory. Independently of each other, both artists have deployed this centuries-old performative art form in works that are widely considered to be highpoints of their respective careers--works such as Kentridge's installation The Refusal of Time and Malani's video/shadow play In Search of Vanished Blood. Both artists belong to a generation whose experience is shaped by colonialism and decolonization; their works reflect on the long-term traces of historical trauma, partition and apartheid, always in aesthetically complex forms (rather than in documentary or agit-prop style). In creative dialogue with modernism and the historical avant-garde, they provide persuasive examples of a new negotiation between aesthetics, ethics and politics.
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