About the Artwork
The original Fire Walker is a fragmented, eleven-metre high ‘anti-monument’ created by William Kentridge and Gerhard Marx in response to a commission by the City of Johannesburg in 2010.
Associated with that metropolis’s market culture – a melange of sights, smells, nationalities and generations – it depicts the silhouette of a female street vendor carrying a burning brazier on her head. The usually immigrant, homeless ‘fire walkers’ sell pieces of coal to other market vendors and are among the most impoverished of the city’s urban labourers. As the viewer passes the sculpture, the figure either becomes briefly aligned at an optimum viewing point , or dissolves into dislocated, abstracted shards, as torn as the rags of its original subject’s dress. This shifting quality challenges associations between public sculpture and monumentality and speaks to the itinerant, precarious nature of ‘fire walkers’ lives.
Copyright the artists, Courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery; Photo © Nick Turpin
300 x 175 x 204 cm