Triumphs and Laments

William Kentridge

and Laments

A Project for Rome


Composer: Philip Miller
Artistic Director: Kristin Jones
Co-Composer: Thuthuka Sibisi

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Presented by

The idea

A contemporary artwork, inspired by the eternal city

Triumphs and Laments (2016) will be a large-scale, 500 meter-long frieze, erased from the biological patina on the travertine embankment walls that line Rome’s urban waterfront. Exploring dominant tensions in the history of the Eternal City from past to present, a procession of figures, up to 10 meters high, will represent Rome’s greatest victories and defeats from mythological time to present, forming a silhouetted procession on Piazza Tevere, between Ponte Sisto and Ponte Mazzini.
The work will open on April 21-22, 2016 with the premiere of a theatrical event created in collaboration with composer Philip Miller, featuring live shadow play and two processional bands performing against the backdrop of the frieze.


The opening

APRIL 21, 20:30
APRIL 22, 20:30 & 22:30

The frieze will open on the Natale di Roma holiday with the premiere of a theatrical program created by William Kentridge and his frequent collaborator, the internationally acclaimed composer Philip Miller. This once in a lifetime event will feature two processional marching bands — one for the Triumphs, one for Laments –made up of Italian and South African soloists and musicians, and dramatic live shadow play, all performing against the backdrop of the frieze. Over 200 volunteers will join this multicultural ensemble to create a spectacular procession that will animate the work.

​The program will be performed three times after sunset over two days, and will be free and open to the public. Audience members will watch from the Eastern side of Piazza Tevere on the riverbank opposite the frieze, which can be accessed via staircases at Ponte Sisto and Ponte Mazzini.​​

Conceived by William Kentridge and Philip Miller
Composer: Philip Miller
Music Directors: Paolo Rocca and Thuthuka Sibisi
Co-composer and choral arrangements: Thuthuka Sibisi
Soloists: Joanna Dudley, Lavinia Mancusi, Ann Masina, Bham Ntabeni, Patrizia Rotonda
Arrangements: Philip Miller, Thuthuka Sibisi and Paolo Rocca
Conductors: Thuthuka Sibisi and Fabrizio Cardosa
Sound Design: David Monacchi
Costume Design: Greta Goiris

The artist

William Kentridge, artist and narrator

South African artist William Kentridge is internationally acclaimed for the evocative power of his work. His exhibitions and grand-scale, staged performances stun and thrill audiences throughout the world.
Best known for his prints, drawings, and animated films, his exhibitions include, among many others, a recent retrospective organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in the United States; and at Castello di Rivoli, MAXXI, and Villa Medici al Madre a Capodimonte in Italy.
Represented by Galleria Lia Rumma in Italy, Marian Goodman in New York, and Goodman Gallery in South Africa, Kentridge has staged and produced major theatrical and operatic works throughout the world. Triumphs and Laments is his most ambitious project to date.

The site

Piazza Tevere: 500 meters of contemporary art on the banks of the Tiber RIVER

William Kentridge’s Triumphs and Laments will be hosted at Piazza Tevere, TEVERETERNO’s adopted site on Rome’s Tiber River.
Hidden within the fantastic serpentine meander of the river, Piazza Tevere was founded on an underutilized, central section of the Tiber between Ponte Sisto and Ponte Mazzini – equal in size and proportion to the ancient Circus Maximus.
The premiere stage for contemporary art on the city’s waterfront, Piazza Tevere is the cornerstone of a long-term urban placemaking initiative led by TEVERETERNO and conducted in partnership with local institutions, governmental agencies, and community partners, working together to create a public gathering space; a venue for art beyond the traditional confines of museum, gallery, or concert hall; a commons – a piazza for the Tiber.


A multidisciplinary project for the revival of Rome’s Tiber river

TEVERETERNO is a multidisciplinary non-profit organization dedicated to the establishment and ongoing stewardship of Piazza Tevere: the first and largest public space for contemporary art on Rome’s urban waterfront.

TEVERETERNO was founded upon the belief that art can be a powerful catalyst for urban transformation. We envision the Tiber as a vital park in the heart of Rome, and Piazza Tevere – between Ponte Sisto and Ponte Mazzini – as its liveliest public space. Here, since 2005, TEVERETERNO has produced cultural events drawing tens of thousands, celebrating the site and its context through vibrant contemporary art. Through the creation of sustainable solutions for access and public use, a commitment to long-term maintenance, and regular, free public programming, the riverfront will become a destination for Romans and tourists alike.

TEVERETERNO is an award-winning project, endorsed by the Comune di Roma, the American Academy in Rome, and MAXXI – Italy’s national museum of contemporary art, among others. In 2011, TEVERETERNO was recognized within UNESCO’s Management Plan for the City of Rome as an exemplary pilot-project and acknowledged as critical to the dynamic renewal of Rome’s river.


A masterpiece of participation

Triumphs and Laments would not have been possible without the immeasurable contributions of hundreds of dedicated volunteers over many years.
A diverse team of both Italian and international volunteers, universities, academies, local and foreign institutions has demonstrated enormous interest and generosity in giving to a project that speaks of Rome and its history. This is an opportunity to regain a part of the city’s identity and to influence the transformation of public space, beginning with the adoption of Piazza Tevere.
The more than 200 volunteers involved in this April’s Triumphs and Laments opening program are the first ambassadors of William Kentridge’s work, offering their skills and time through many different roles, motivated by an interest in the Tiber, Rome, and art as a common good.

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