What does it mean to render studio processes—the pedestrian activities of cutting and pasting, drawing, walking, and projecting light—as a series of metaphors for how we think and how we live? And why would an artist embark on such a dubious enterprise? This book considers how William Kentridge spins the material operations of the studio into a web of politically engaged and historically grounded metaphors. It explores Kentridge’s parallels between drawing and thinking; between erasure and forgetting; between animation and the dynamism of history. Leora Maltz-Leca’s book addresses how Kentridge casts shadows as visual analogues of doubt, marshals drawings as non-linear arguments, and casts the mechanics of projection in Freudian terms. She places Kentridge’s metaphorical lexicon in the context of the South African postcolony—in local histories, in national amnesias—to ask why this artist eschews the aesthetics of literalism for the leaps of metaphor. Focusing on the studio as a “projection room,” honing in on the space between the mechanical apparatus of the camera and the psychic screen of the studio wall, Maltz-Leca explores studio practice in all its metaphoric dimensions.

Leora Maltz-Leca was educated at Yale, Brown and Harvard, receiving her PhD from Harvard in 2008. Since then she has been assistant professor of contemporary art, undergraduate concentration coordinator, and graduate program director in art history at the Rhode Island School of Design. Her writing has appeared in Art Bulletin, Artforum, Frieze, Art South Africa, Public Art Review, ArteEast, and other publications. Maltz-Leca is currently organizing an exhibition on the cross-cultural pathways of documentary photography, which explores the relationships among Walker Evans, David Goldblatt, and Santu Mofokeng.