Professor Lila Yawn Interviewed for Documentary on Kentridge's Frieze

Professor Lila Yawn

Professor Lila Yawn

John Cabot University art history professor Lila Yawn was recently interviewed for an Italian documentary on Triumphs and Laments, Rome’s colossal work of public art by renowned South African artist William Kentridge.

Professor Yawn served as curator for historical research on the project and is thus an expert on the frieze, which lines the Tiber river embankments from Ponte Sisto northward to Ponte Mazzini. With the help of 10 JCU students,  Dr. Yawn created a database of nearly five hundred images from the history of art, journalism, and cinema for Mr. Kentridge’s use. She explains how, working from this iconographic palette (called ‘the timeline’), the artist made more than sixty drawings, which were then enlarged to form templates as tall as 9 meters. Fifty-four of these templates were suspended one at a time over the Tiber river walls just beyond Ponte Sisto, on the Trastevere side, and a technical crew cleaned around them using a jet of water to reveal the natural off-white color of the travertine. Areas covered by the templates were thus left black, the color of the natural ‘pigment’ of mold and pollution already present on the river walls. Over time, the drawings will gradually disappear on their own as the black mold grows back to cover the sections of wall rendered white by the washing.

Watch the interview (in Italian)

See guide to the images of the frieze edited by Prof. Yawn, with contributions by JCU professors and alumni and by professors from other universities.