Drawing for City Deep (Zama Zama Pits)

William Kentridge
Drawing for City Deep (Zama Zama Pits) , 2019
Charcoal and red pencil on paper
Work: 103.5 x 152 cm

Drawing for City Deep (Zama Zama Pits) is a charcoal and red pencil drawing made as part of William Kentridge’s film City Deep (2020), his eleventh from the Soho Chronicles series. Continuing on themes found throughout the body of work, but particularly in Kentridge’s 1991 film Mine, this work explores the mining history of Johannesburg and its impact on the city. The landscape depicted in the drawing is of ‘Zama Zama pits’ - abandoned and ownerless mines - worked illegally by ‘Zama Zamas’ (which translates from Zulu to mean ‘take a chance’ or ‘try your luck’). Large open scars on the landscape, drawn without the surrounding machinery found in industrial mines, shows the damage to the landscape done long before ‘Zama Zamas’ arrive. Within the film ‘City Deep’ Kentridge situates the landscape and its informal miners in artworks at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, itself built during the gold mining heyday of Johannesburg, and contextualising the mining trade within the history of the city.