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Curator's Note:

Tumultuous, expansive, inspirational - the past 10 years have had their ups and downs. How have contemporary artists reacted to the news of the day?


Art's relationship to its time is inherently complex. No matter what the particular subject at hand - be it social upheaval, the environment, mass media, or identity - today's art is layered with influences, sources and ideas. Loathe to be pinned down, contemporary artists serve no master, religion or propaganda, as they most often did in past centuries. Positioning themselves on the very edge of expression, the artists presented here pose questions and create new forms that open up ways of thinking and viewing the world.

--Wesley Miller, Associate Curator, Art21

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The premise of this campaign is that people want a different way of doing things in Washington. They want to turn the page. They want to change.” —Robert Gibbs, Communications Director, Obama Campaign, FRONTLINE: The Choice 2008 (2008)

9/11. War. Presidential Elections. Financial Collapse. Environmental Disasters. Hope. This decade has seen its fair share of world-shaping events and the rhetoric of change, of questioning fundamental beliefs and remaking the status quo, seemed to always take center stage. But how, should we ask, are we to make sense of what all this change means?

Art21's forthcoming film for PBS-William Kentridge: Anything is Possible (premieres October 2010-examines the career of an artist whose works provokes viewers to become conscious of the very processes through which we see and make sense of an often chaotic world. Born in apartheid-era South Africa, Kentridge’s works examine themes of a divided world, a divided self, and the ways in which we create illusions of coherence despite the many contradictions in our lives and societies.

William Kentridge: Anything Is Possible—the first film produced by Art21 for national television broadcast outside of the biennial Peabody Award-winning Art in the Twenty-First Century series—premieres October 21, 2010 on PBS (check local listings). William Kentridge is also featured in the Season 5 (2009) episode of Art in the Twenty-First Century, Compassion.

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