The Pool Ahead is Not to be Trusted (framed)

This limited-edition print by William Kentridge Hon RA is on show in the Shenkman Bar, Keeper’s House from 12 September 2019.

Please note that all framed works purchased will be available for collection from the Royal Academy of Arts at the end of the display by appointment with the RA Editions team.

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Artwork details

Colour Multicolour
Dimensions 50 x 55cm
Fabric & material Sugarlift Aquatint
Edition 40

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Artwork description

The Pool Ahead is Not to be Trusted is a new RA Edition by William Kentridge Hon RA. The print, made in a limited edition of 40, is a sugarlift aquatint, a technique of etching that enables the artist to etch marks that are similar to those produced by a brush into the plate.

‘The Pool Ahead is not to be Trusted’ is a line from the libretto for Waiting for the Sibyl, a stage piece for recorded music and voice, performance, shadows, and projection, presented at the Rome Opera in September 2019. Kentridge is working with Nhlanhla Mahlangu and five singers to create a captivating and haunting ‘choral sound world’ with Kyle Shepherd as both co-composer and musical director.

William Kentridge writes about the project:

“In 1968 Alexander Calder made a production for the Rome Opera called Work in Progress. On stage were some of his mobiles, painted backdrops, cyclists riding around the stage, with different pieces of music by an Italian composer. Fifty years after its first performance, Rome Opera is reviving the Calder work. Waiting for the Sibyl will be a companion piece and response to Work in Progress.

There is a story of the Cumean Sibyl, a prophetess. She would write people's fortunes or fates on oak leaves. The pile of oak leaves sat at the mouth of her cave. People would come to take the leaf on which was written their fate. But inevitably a wind would come up and swirl the leaves out of order, so you never knew if the leaf you had picked was your fate or not. The circling of the leaves in the wind, or the swirling of pages of the unbound book in the projections, becomes akin to the revolving leaves of the sculptures in the Calder.”

The themes of the project concern destiny, fate and our attempts to escape it. Kentridge notes that the contemporary Sibyl is the algorithm, which knows our future and our choices better than we do ourselves.


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RA Editions
The RA Editions programme publishes and showcases prints by Royal Academicians and invited artists. All are available to buy online, from the RA Shop in Gallery X as well as through a series of displays within the Keeper’s House and Burlington Gardens. The programme generates valuable revenue for the RA and, in particular, the RA Schools.