This exquisite comparative study of contemporary artists William Kentridge and Nalini Malani focuses on their use of the shadow play as medium of memory.

Independently of each other, both artists have deployed this centuries-old performative art form in works that some consider to be highpoints of their respective careers, including Kentridge installation The Refusal of Time and Malani’s video/shadow play In Search of Vanished Blood. Both artists belong to a generation whose experience is shaped by colonialism and de-colonization; their works reflect on the long-term traces of historical trauma, partition, and apartheid, always in aesthetically complex forms rather than in documentary or agit-prop style. In creative dialogue with modernism and the historical avant-garde, they provide persuasive examples of a new negotiation between aesthetics, ethics, and politics.