Weigh All Tears is a solo exhibition by the South African artist William Kentridge, which takes its name from a new 6-meter-wide triptych of the same name, in which silhouetted figures form a procession beneath a collage of African maps and archival documents.
The title of the exhibition is a recurring phrase in his work, one of a series of changing phrases that recur in his work. They are "mysteries, phrases that teeter on the brink of meaning.... Sentence fragments in a phrase drawer that have been used in other work over the years, sometimes they're taken out to sort out."
The figures in the triptych, like the phrases in the different works, can be seen in the exhibition's four new tapestries: "Orator" (2021), "Spinner" (2021), "Mechanic" (2020) and "Colleoni" (2020). The tapestry creates a space of multiple times and places, a space of inquiry and doubt: eras and outline figures of Chinese county maps from the 1950s-1970s, sometimes overlaid with traces of coloured markers and collage techniques.
Likewise, three laser-cut steel heads, "Revolutionary I," "Revolutionary II," and "Revolutionary (There Was No Epiphany)" (all 2016) show the progressive ideographic evolution of heads taken from models' opera posters, the last iteration merges the text. The model operas of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) transformed the form of Peking Opera with revolutionary stories.