PLEASE NOTE: This work has an excellent provenance: it is in the collections of both Tate Modern, London and in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
"A casspir is an armoured personnel carrier, used by the South African police and defence force, both in military operations in conflict zones (Namibia and Angola in the 1980s) and as control vehicles in the black townships.
The name is an anagram of SAP (South African Police) and CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research), who jointly developed the vehicle.
There used to be a weekly radio programme called Forces Favourites, in which girlfriends and mothers would send messages of support to their boys on the border(in the 1980s, we are talking about white conscripts to the defence force). I remember hearing a message from one mother to her son: 'I hope you got the food parcel, look forward to seeing you in a month. This message comes to you from your mom, with Casspirs full of love'.
The heads, themselves? I had been in Tuscany with my family for 3 months, and had done drawings based on a Giotto in Santa Croce. At a certain point, I cut up the drawing to re-arrange the figures, and had on the studio floor, dismembered bodies and heads, waiting to be reconstituted. Also in Florence that year, was an exhibition of sculpture, which included Tony Cragg's wonderful beet heads, bronze casts of beetroots with crude faces cast into them. The print became a combination of Giotto, Cragg and 1980's South African radio.
This was a drypoint plate, which I printed with an assistant, at the press of the University of South Africa. In all the weeks that we worked on that plate, I could never work out quite how to ink it, and we could never do more than two prints a day. Between prints, I would rework the plate, so there is a considerable variation in the first fifteen prints of the edition. The last ten of the series were printed several years later by Jack Shirreff at 107 Workshop in Bath, England."
(Kentridge, in William Kentridge Prints, pg. 36).