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Rings of Saturn (The Exhibition)

Rings of Saturn installation_photoInstallation view – Rings of Saturn, 2006 (Photograph courtesy Tate Photography)

Over the past three years I have written about a number of exhibitions inspired in one way or another by the work of W.G. Sebald.  Without doubt, the book that seems to have the most influence on visual artists has been The Rings of Saturn.  A reader of Vertigo has pointed out that the Tate Modern held a group exhibition from September to December 2006 entitled Rings of Saturn, which included eight artists.  (I began Vertigo in January 2007.)  Here is the exhibition blurb from the Tate’s website:

The title of this exhibition is borrowed from the German writer WG Sebald’s 1995 novel, an elegiac and fragmentary meditation upon history, its lost customs and eccentric figures. Sebald’s anonymous narrator wanders the melancholy landscape of East Anglia, discovering remnants of the past that prompt meticulously researched digressions interspersed with enigmatic photographs. Taking Sebald’s tone and method as an inspiration, the exhibition is similarly allusive and associative. The work of Steven Claydon and Thomas Zipp explores the nature of history and its lesser-known protagonists, and its critical moments of transition, energy and change.

David Noonan’s prints bring together fragments of the past with the uncanny power of a half-remembered dream, while David Wojnarowicz’s photographs evoke a ruined, dissolute city haunted by the archetypal figure of Arthur Rimbaud. Buried traditions of European folk and fairy tales resurface in the work of Nathalie Djurberg and Dorota Jurczak. Thomas Helbig takes existing objects, such as kitsch figurines, and fashions them into grotesque forms, bringing disturbing new associations to the trace of the original object, while Saul Fletcher’s photographs provide a reflection upon solitude, personal identity and death.

At the Tate website there is a bit of information about each of the artists in the exhibition, along with a few images.  It does not appear that a catalog was issued.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. You know, Terry, it’s not just exhibitions that are influenced by Rings of Saturn – a lot of books as well. I randomly picked up a copy of linguist David Crystal’s travelogue ‘By Hook or by Crook’ yesterday and realised that, according to his introduction, he was inspired by Rings of Saturn as well as by H.V. Morton, that utterly charming travel writer of the ’20s and ’30s. I recommend the book, by the way!

    Thanks, by the way, for such a consistently fascinating and inspiring blog!

    October 21, 2009
  2. Sara Sylvester #

    I came across this at my local Arts theatre. I intend to go and will happily review it. Volcano Theatre is based on the remarkable novel ‘The Rings of Saturn’ by W.G. Sebald. A quartet of performers each appeal to the audience to see things their way as they describe their own readings of this wondrous journey through a novel. Sounds very interesting.

    http://www.chapter.org/17516.html

    November 8, 2009

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