In the framework of the UNITA program, Scenography Today and its parent organization United Talents have started a partnership with the Centre for the Less Good Idea, the interdisciplinary space for the arts founded in South Africa by William Kentridge

Under the cooperation, activities will take place aimed at finding solutions to support creative careers in the long term and to contribute to better, more sustainable societies. 

The Centre for the Less Good Idea, William Kentridge Scenography Todays set design magazine UNITA program
The Centre for the Less Good Idea, Johannesburg | Photo © Stella Olivier, courtesy of the CLGI

The Centre

If the good doctor can’t cure you, find the less good doctor,” goes a proverb from the Tswana people in South Africa. 

The proverb, which amusing, and grammatically awkward translation William Kentridge found in Sol T. Plaatje‘s Sechuana Proverbs (1916), goes a long way to describing the Centre for the Less Good Idea’s interests and ideal artistic processes.

The Centre for the Less Good Idea, William Kentridge Scenography Todays set design magazine UNITA program
The Centre for the Less Good Idea, William Kentridge | Photo © Stella Olivier, courtesy of the CLGI

“The Centre is a physical and immaterial space to pursue incidental discoveries made in the process of producing ideas and work,” says Bronwyn Lace, co-director for the foundation for the Centre.

“As a generator of collective and collaborative practice, the Centre understands itself to be in a state of growing whilst not knowing. Its culture is one of empathy, intimacy and trust. It is a space which prizes questioning and risk taking and, rather than insisting participants are good or right, it asks them to simply be present.” 

The Centre for the Less Good Idea, William Kentridge Scenography Todays set design magazine UNITA program
The Centre for the Less Good Idea, Johannesburg, William Kentridge | Photo © Stella Olivier, courtesy of the CLGI

Following the secondary ideas

“Often, you start with a good idea, it might seem crystal clear at first, but when you take it off the proverbial drawing board, cracks and fissures emerge on its surface, and they cannot be ignored. It is in following the secondary ideas, those less good ideas coined to address the first idea’s cracks, that the Centre nurtures, arguing that in the act of playing with an idea, you can recognize those things you didn’t know in advance but knew somewhere inside of you.”

William Kentridge, 2016

The Centre for the Less Good Idea, William Kentridge Scenography Todays set design magazine UNITA program
The Centre for the Less Good Idea, Johannesburg | Photo © Stella Olivier, courtesy of the CLGI

The Centre has discovered that pursuing the ‘less good ideas’ can create opportunities that open up gaps for the unexpected to slip in and that, in turn, it can shift the focus from the central to the peripheral. 

“This exploratory method,” says UNITA director Giuliano Picchi, “is one of the key factors that make the partnership between the Centre and UNITA a promising venture to find innovative solutions that support the arts and creativity as key drivers of a better future”.

More on the program → UNITA Program

More on the Centre → CLGI Website