William Kentridge,
Drawing for the film WEIGHING... and WANTING

Charcoal on paper
120 x 160 cm
Courtesy of the Artist

WEIGHING… and WANTING is an installation of charcoal, pastel and gouache drawings and a film transferred to laser disk which is based on the drawings. Kentridge's homeland, South Africa, figures largely in his artwork, which allegorically renders the charged relationship between oppressor and the oppressed in reference to South Africa's apartheid era, which lasted from 1948 to 1994.

The drawings and the film that comprise WEIGHING… and WANTING, all dated 1997, centre around Kentridge's character Soho Eckstein, a broad-shouldered, white South African industrialist whose self-assured place in the world has been dismantled by the ascendancy of the African National Congress and condemnation of apartheid. Eckstein's story is related through his personal meditations on a failed love affair, the Johannesburg landscape which stands as a silent witness to the atrocities of the apartheid era, and his own internal psychic landscape, represented by images of MRI brain scans. The title of the exhibition refers to a biblical episode in which a disembodied hand appears before King Belshazzar of Babylon and writes a message on the wall. It reads, ‘You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting, for you have not humbled your heart before God, so your kingdom has come to an end.’