March 9, 2012
If you are in the San Francisco Bay area, drop by the Berkeley Art Center, where five works by Christel Dillbohner relating to W.G. Sebald’s Nach der Natur are on display until April 1. According to the artist’s website, her artwork entitled Nach der Natur “is a multipaneled ‘wax engraving’ on paper. In seventeen one-hour sessions, Dillbohner engraved W.G. Sebald’s prose poem Nach der Natur into a layer of wax which was applied on blackened mulberry paper (69” x 190”). After completion she then glazed the wax with white oil paint, which makes the fine (filigree) markings of her writing visible.”
Here are further details on the previously announced Festival Robert Walser being held in Newcastle upon Tyne, March 19-23. I think the key information is this: All events FREE. For more information on all events go to the Robert Walser Institute website.
Mon. 19/03 6pm
THE JOB APPLICATION at City Library
Short stories by Robert Walser. Read by Tim Bennett, Gabriele Heller and Claire Webster-Saaremets
City Library, 33 New Bridge Street West, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE18AX, Tel: 0191 277 4100
Tues. 20/03 1– 2.30pm
BIOGRAPHY AND LEGACY on Culture Lab Radio
A radio discussion on the role of madness in art and artistic legacy.
Tune in at http://culturelabradio.ncl.ac.uk/
Culture Lab, Newcastle University, Grand Assembly Rooms, Kingʼs Walk, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, Tel: 0191 246 4607
Wed. 21/03 6.30-9pm
OPPRESSIVE LIGHT at The Lit and Phil
Selected Poems by Robert Walser. Book launch – New translations by Daniele Pantano
DEEPLY MORBID at The Lit and Phil
An illustrated lecture on romance by Tender Buttons. Written by Stevie Smith and Robert Walser. Performed by Tessa Parr, Directed by Tess Denman-Cleaver
CREATIVE NATURES ARE UNSPECULATIVE at The Lit and Phil
New compositions by John Pope
Literary & Philosophical Society, 23 Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1SE, email@example.com
Free but booking essential: Phone 0191 232 0192 to reserve a ticket
Thur. 22/03 6pm
APROPOS THE KISSING OF A HAND at Vane Gallery
Opening exhibition night with work by Billy Childish, Roman Signer and others
RELAY – ANALOGUE TO DIGITAL at Vane Gallery
Newcastle University students show filmic work in response to Robert Walserʼs Microscripts.
Vane Gallery, 1st Floor, Commercial Union House, 39 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6QE, Tel: 0191 261 8281, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fri. 23/03 4.30-7pm
FERNE NÄHE / DISTANT CLOSENESS at Cuture Lab
A talk by Reto Sorg about Robert Frankʼs exhibition Ferne Nähe /Distant Closeness at the Robert Walser Zentrum, Bern March 2012.
Followed by a panel discussion with Jo Catling, Lars Iyer, Daniel Medin, Daniele Pantano, Natasha Soobramanien and Luke Williams about Walserʼs unique
7.30pm MORE ON THIS LATER at Culture Lab
A theatre performance by Gabriele Heller (theatre-between) and Claire Webster-Saaremets (Skimstone Arts).
Followed by a musical piece by Phil Begg and a musical performance by Joe Murray.
Culture Lab, Newcastle University, Grand Assembly Rooms, Kingʼs Walk, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, 0191 246 4607
Finally, on another note entirely, Grant Gee’s film Patience (After Sebald) will be shown at the San Francisco International Film Festival, April 19-May 3. A few more details here.
February 25, 2012
A few seconds after the title of Grant Gee’s film fades, a subtitle appears that tells us what the next 84 minutes are going to be about: “A Walk Through The Rings of Saturn.” Patience (After Sebald) is a tour through a book rather than a visit to a place or the story of a life. Gee does, at times, show us locations referred to by the words of the book, but, as several interviewees say, it’s foolish, really, to follow in Sebald’s footsteps. So, like a good reader, Gee follows Sebald’s words.
Patience is a layered, often leisurely film, content to linger on images or, in one instance, plunge the screen into blackness for a few moments. The film begins and ends with the opening and closing words of The Rings of Saturn, wonderfully read by the actor Jonathan Pryce, whose uninflected, almost monotonous voice has the requisite underlying hints of sadness and melancholy. Packed into the center of Patience are superbly edited interviews, scenes of East Anglia, clips from vintage documentary films (the British fishing industry, World War II, the hatching of silkworms). In a film equivalent of Sebald’s multi-layered text, Gee often has two, if not three distinct films superimposed : his own contemporary documentary, a vintage film, and the slow scanning of the words from Sebald’s book. The visual tracks and the audio track act like tectonic plates, shifting underneath each other and causing momentary, almost random disruptions that jar the viewer into seeing new relationships. The film is predominately black and white, although there are brief incursions into color film, as well as sequences when small color films are inset within the dominant black and white image.
By visually and aurally keeping Sebald’s words first and foremost in the viewer’s attention, Gee emulates the act of attentive reading. As the film moves through the book (always reminding us that we are focused on a book, Gee frequently notes exactly what page the film is referencing), Gee digresses to a geographic site, or permits a talking head to propose an interpretation or or explanation of Sebald’s text or insert a bit of Sebald’s biography, or, as Sebald often did in his books, simply leaves us staring at an inane, odd, but somehow fitting image. It’s precisely how an engaged reader would move through Sebald’s meandering text, pausing briefly to wonder about an odd reference (what does the Emperor of China have to do with the bridge over the river Blythe?) or reflect on a particularly beautiful or unexpected turn of phrase. Is there another film like this, a film that simulates “reading” a book? I can’t think of one.
The talking heads (who, for the most part, remain offscreen talking voices) are a well-chosen lot that includes: Robert Macfarlane (writer), Christopher MacLehose (publisher), Adams Phillips (writer and psychoanalyst), Barbara Hui (creator of LitMaps), William Firebrace (architect), Rick Moody (writer), Bill Swainson (editor), Kate Mitchell (theater director), Iain Sinclair (writer), Lise Patt (editor, Searching for Sebald), Christopher Woodward (writer), Tacita Dean (artist), Jeremy Millar (artist), Michael Silverblatt (KCRW radio interviewer), Dan Gretton (writer), Marina Warner (writer), Sir Andrew Motion (poet), Arthur Lubow (journalist), and Chris Petit (writer & filmmaker). Poet and Sebald translator Michael Hamburger appears via clips from an earlier film. And Sebald himself is heard, talking about Virginia Woolf, Bleak House, and other topics), via Silverblatts’ great radio interview, made only eight days before Sebald’s death. Gee elicits many great quotes, but one of my favorites comes from Macfarlane, who calls Sebald a “biographer who walks his subjects back into life or maybe he walks forward after them into death.”
February 2, 2012
“Festival W.G. Sebald: Politique de la Mélancolie” will take place in Paris at Centre Pompidou from February 22 through MARCH 12. Participants include: Muriel Pic, Martine Carré, Jean-Christophe Baill, Martin Rueff, Ulrich von Bülow, and Jürgen Ritt. von Bülow will apparently speak about the Sebald archive at the Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach. According to the website:
Valérie Mréjen launches an investigation into writer W.G. Sebald and his work. Following upon the “lecture-performance” and the “spoken painting” that previous editions of the Festival have introduced as new and viable genres of contemporary art, this forensic investigation calls upon the ghosts of the past to cast a glimmer of light on the unknown future.
“The SIP Re/View # 2: W.G. Sebald” will take place in Tel Aviv on March 5, 2012. According to their website:
The Shpilman Institute for Photography and Holon Mediateque (Israel) are proud to announce The SIP Re/View # 2: W.G. Sebald, an interdisciplinary event dedicated to the works of noted German writer and scholar, whose work continues to resonate in contemporary art and culture. The evening will begin with a panel of local artists and writers: artist Zvi Goldstein, psychoanalyst, artist and art-critic Itamar Levi and The SIP’s research manager, Dr. Romi Mikulinsky will, present three perspectives about Sebald’s evocative use of images and photography as vehicle to convey and distort meaning. The event will feature keynote speaker Grant Gee, acclaimed documentary film-maker and director of Patience (After Sebald). This multi-layered film is narrated through a walk through coastal East Anglia whilst tracking Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn. Gee will host an open debate with the public, following a screening of the film.
The event will also present a temporary library, focusing not only on Sebald’s work, but also on contemporary reactions in art, culture and literature, featuring the works and writings of international creative forces. As well as history and architecture books, special photography books and art manuscripts will be presented at the mediatheque during the first weeks of March.
“Festival Robert Walser” will take place March 19-24 in Newcastle Upon Tyne. A number of familiar names – including Jo Catling – will appear. From their website:
One of the most remarkable artists of the Twentieth Century, the Swiss writer Robert Walser (1878-1956) has had a huge influence on a long list of literary, artistic and philosophical figures from Franz Kafka to Walter Benjamin, W.G. Sebald to J.M. Coetzee, musicians such as Heinz Holliger, contemporary visual artists from Fischli & Weiss to Billy Childish, and filmmakers including João César Monteiro, Percy Adlon and the Brothers Quay. In recent years, international interest in Walser’s work via a growing number of world class translations has generated a wealth of new writing, artwork and critical discussion which continues to explore Walser’s unusual legacy. The Institute Robert Walser will use Walser’s multi-disciplinary appeal as the basis for a week long arts festival in Newcastle upon Tyne in arch 2012. The festival will bring together local and international writers, academics, performers, musicians and visual artists. Participants include: Billy Childish (artist/writer/musician), Roman Signer (artist), Daniele Pantano (writer) Luke Williams (writer) and Jo Catling (translator/academic). The festival will also serve to showcase the extraordinary cultural and artistic diversity in the city of Newcastle at this time; it will be launched on March 19th at Newcastle City Library and will take place across a range of venues.
January 24, 2012
Grant Gee’s excellent documentary on W.G. Sebald Patience (After Sebald) is starting to appear in cinemas across England. It will have a short run at the ICA in London from January 27 through February 2, with Gee appearing on the 27th. Details here.
If you are near Manchester you have a chance to see Patience and meet Grant Gee on January 29 at Cornerhouse. It’s just a single showing as part of a series put on by the New British Cinema Quarterly. Here is the link for more details. The website includes a very brief video clip that manages to give a bit of the flavor of the film.
The NBCQ series moves on to London where Patience will be shown at Curzon’s Renoir Cinema in Bloomsbury on January 30. Once again, Grant Gee will make an appearance at the showing for Q&A. Details here.
The BBC has also posted a five-minute audio piece about the film. Grant Gee talks for a bit and Andrew Motion reads a poem about Sebald. Listen here.
American audiences will apparently start seeing Patience in theaters starting in late April, distributed by Cinema Guild.
And the film’s soundtrack by The Caretaker has just been released as a vinyl album and a CD. Buy here (and sample three of the tracks).
And eventually, I am told, there will be DVDs of the film for sale.
September 29, 2011
OK, final reminder: Grant Gee’s film Patience (After Sebald) will be arriving in North America in a few days. It will show at the New York Film Festival on Sunday, October 2, 2011 at 3:30 PM. Details here and here. Then it will go on to the Vancouver International Film Festival for several showings beginning October 5. I’ve written about Patience and Grant Gee several times before.
And across the Atlantic at the Birmingham Book Festival, Jo Catling and Uwe Schütte will present a program called “W.G. Sebald: Beyond Literature,” which will “examine aspects of his life and works that are hardly known: his role as an academic in the UK, his critical writings, his reception as a writer in Germany, and so on.” This happens on the evening of October 10.
Need more to do? Then spend October rereading The Rings of Saturn in preparation for a book discussion at the Writers’ Centre, Norwich on November 15.