July 4, 2019
Arts & Culture

A tour to remember with Joanna Dudley

Dressed in white and wielding a red flag, soprano Joanna Dudley will this weekend give visitors to the Art Gallery of South Australia a performance they won’t forget.

Joanna, who grew up in Adelaide and studied early and contemporary music at the Adelaide Conservatorium, has returned home to perform as part of an immersive exhibition by world-renowned artist William Kentridge.

The exhibition William Kentridge: That which we do not remember traces the Johannesberg artist’s 30-year career, right back to his emergence during the apartheid regime in South Africa.  

An international director, performer and singer, Joanna has collaborated with William for several years on exhibitions and operas, and spends her time between Adelaide, Europe and South Africa.

This weekend only, she will perform The Guided Tour of the Exhibition: for Soprano and Handbag within the exhibition space at the art gallery. “In a sense, I’m a connection between the artwork and the people, like a strange three-dimensional cartoon that William has created, working around and within his exhibition, but very much a part of his imagination,” Joanna says. 

What starts out as a fairly normal exhibition tour takes an anarchic turn. “Fairly quickly it goes off the tracks,” she says. Against the charcoal sketches and artwork, Joanna’s white uniform, red flag and animated performance create a striking impression.

“The exhibition is a lovely gamut of theatre, opera, puppetry, animation and film, and I’m the three-dimensional moving part of that world.”

It will be the first time Joanna has performed at the Art Gallery of South Australia, with which she has a strong connection. Her mother has been a long-standing volunteer tour guide at the gallery, which also served as a place of refuge from study during Joanna’s university years. “I haven’t performed here in Adelaide for maybe 10 years, so it’s really nice to come back,” Joanna says.

“The great thing about this collection is there are both very early and contemporary pieces, so you get to see a real timeline of William’s work. There are film pieces from the opera The Magic Flute, and there are other films, paintings and drawings – a real mix.”

William’s parents were both attorneys in Johannesburg, famous for their defence of victims of apartheid, a period of history that has strongly influenced the artist’s work. The exhibition features loans from both the Naomi Milgrom collection and William’s own studio. 

Joanna will perform The Guided Tour of the Exhibition: for Soprano and Handbag on Friday, July 5 at 7pm; then Saturday and Sunday, 11am and 2pm. 

William Kentridge: That which we do not remember will be on display until September 8.

Details: agsa.sa.gov.au

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