Art21′s feature film documentary William Kentridge: Anything Is Possible premieres on PBS this week. The national broadcast premiere is scheduled for October 21 at 10:00 p.m., though broadcast times will vary by region -  check your local listings to find out when the program will air. Also make sure to dig into all the extra content Art21 has organized in conjunction with the film: slide shows, video clips, and special essays commissioned from Art21’s regular writers. You can keep up with this material by subscribing to Art21’s special William Kentridge website’s RSS feed, by signing up for Art21’s email newsletter or hookin’ up with them on Facebook and Twitter.

William Kentridge: Anything Is Possible gives viewers an intimate look into the mind and creative process of William Kentridge, the South African artist whose acclaimed charcoal drawings, animations, video installations, shadow plays, mechanical puppets, tapestries, sculptures, live performance pieces, and operas have made him one of the most dynamic and exciting contemporary artists working today. With its rich historical references and undertones of political and social commentary, Kentridge’s work has earned him inclusion in Time magazine’s 2009 list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

This documentary features exclusive interviews with Kentridge as he works in his studio and discusses his artistic philosophy and techniques. In the film, Kentridge talks about how his personal history as a white South African of Jewish heritage has informed recurring themes in his work—including violent oppression, class struggle, and social and political hierarchies. Additionally, Kentridge discusses his experiments with “machines that tell you what it is to look” and how the very mechanism of vision is a metaphor for “the agency we have, whether we like it or not, to make sense of the world.” We see Kentridge in his studio as he creates animations, music, video, and projection pieces for his various projects, including Breathe (2008); I am not me, the horse is not mine (2008); and the opera The Nose (2010), which premiered earlier this year at New York’s Metropolitan Opera to rave reviews.

With its playful bending of reality and observations on hierarchical systems, the world of The Nose provides an ideal vehicle for Kentridge. The absurdism, he explains in the documentary’s closing, “…is in fact an accurate and a productive way of understanding the world. Why should we be interested in a clearly impossible story? Because, as Gogol says, in fact the impossible is what happens all the time.”

Claudine Isé

Claudine Isé has worked in the field of contemporary art as a writer and curator for the past decade, and currently serves as the Editor of the Art21 Blog. Claudine regularly writes for Artforum.com and Chicago magazine, and has also worked as an art critic for the Los Angeles Times. Before moving to Chicago in 2008, she worked at the Wexner Center in Columbus, OH as associate curator of exhibitions, and at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles as assistant curator of contemporary art, where she curated a number of Hammer Projects. She has Ph.D. in Film, Literature and Culture from the University of Southern California.