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I am not me, the horse is not mine



William Kentridge

South Africa

28 Apr 1955 –

  • Details

    Media categories
    Time-based art , Installation
    Materials used
    eight channel digital tape (betacam) shown as eight channel digital video, colour, sound
    duration: 00:06:00 min; aspect ratio: 4:3
    Signature & date

    Signed l.c. acquisition certificate/ contract, black fibre-tipped pen "WKentridge". Not dated.

    Gift of Anita Belgiorno-Nettis AM and Luca Belgiorno-Nettis AM 2017. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © William Kentridge

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    William Kentridge

    Works in the collection


  • About

    One of the most powerful voices in art today, William Kentridge emerged as an artist during the apartheid regime in South Africa. Grounded in the violent absurdity of that period in his country’s history, his artworks draw connections between art, ideology, history and memory. They reveal the ways in which ideas and images echo across time and between different cultures.

    Kentridge’s eight-channel video work ‘I am not me, the horse is not mine’ is among his most ambitious moving image works and arguably the most significant work by the artist in an Australian museum collection. Developed out of research for Kentridge’s production of Dimitri Shostakovich’s 1928 opera ‘The nose’, it incorporates stop-motion animation, live action, archival video, and a soundtrack by acclaimed South African composer Philip Miller. The large-scale, eight-screen video installation which premiered at the Biennale of Sydney in 2008, creates a deeply immersive experience.

    Shostakovich’s opera ‘The nose’ was based on an absurdist short story by Nikolai Gogol. In Gogol’s story, a mid-level Russian official awakes to find his nose missing from his face, later finding it gallivanting around St Petersburg and having risen to a higher professional rank than its owner. Written in 1836, it functioned as a satire of tsarist Russia – a time marked by a despotic regime, arcane state bureaucracies and social stratification. Almost a century later, the young Shostakovich saw the story of ‘The nose’ as a metaphor for Russian political and cultural life at the beginning of the 20th century – turbulent decades in Russian history, when art and politics traded in grand utopian visions that were brutally crushed under Joseph Stalin.

    ‘I am not me, the horse is not mine’ prompts us to reflect on the contemporary echoes of Gogol’s fable. For Kentridge if offers analogies with South Africa’s recent history and, moreover, it implores us to consider the consequences of the absurd in contemporary social and political life.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 2 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 2 publications

Other works by William Kentridge