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Recent Music & Photography that Make Linkages to Sebald

Merz TrioPhoto credit: Nile Scott

The adventurous Boston-based Merz trio named themselves after the nonsense word that German artist Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948) used for his collage and assemblage artworks that often included found objects. Their goal is to offer “passionate, original playing and thoughtfully curated programming, often in the form of interdisciplinary collaboration.” Two years ago they developed a project of chamber music paired with visual arts and readings from W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn. Here’s the program description from their website:

On November 5, 2017, Merz Trio launched its first season with a “walking tour” through German diasporic art. Audience members were encouraged to explore a once-familiar recital hall now transformed into a gallery-like space. Reproductions of visual art by Kurt Schwitters lined the room; each was paired with a spoken excerpt from W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn. Both the Schwitters and the Sebald commented on a core musical program of trios by Haydn, Schumann, and Johannes Maria Staud, weaving together a narrative of fragmented memory and reconstructed identity in two, distinct, German postwar environments. Listeners were encouraged to make their own connections between art, text, and music, while also experiencing the program of Austro-German classics through this unique and poignant lens.

There is a short YouTube excerpt from the program at their website. While Merz Trio doesn’t seem to be playing the Sebald-related program anymore, they are performing a program involving Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth at Boston’s Plympton-Shattuck Theater, Saturday, October 26.

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Belgium-based French photographer Bertrand Cavalier cites Sebald’s On the Natural History of Destruction for his interest in “the banality of space,” especially “brutalist architecture for its symbolic meaning of post-war trauma.” His work was recently featured on the website of the Photographic Museum of Humanity.

Concrete doesnt burn© Bertrand Cavalier

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