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Posts from the ‘Grant Gee’ Category

Patience: The DVD

Patience DVD

The DVD of Grant Gee’s film Patience (After Sebald) has been released.  I’ve written about Gee and his film several times, but here’s the primary link on the content of Patience (After sebald), which also bears the subtitle A Walk Through The Rings of Saturn.  The DVD contains one “extra”: a 20-minute “Ambient Visual Representation of the Film by The Caretaker.”  The ambient musician The Caretaker was responsible for the score for Patience, and this short video piece combines layered images from the film with The Caretaker’s layered music and sounds into a meditative, almost abstract experience.  The DVD is available from the distributor and other sources. Read more

Sebald (and more) Events in March-April 2012

[Portions of Nach der Natur installed in Don Soker Contemporary Art, San Francisco, 2006]

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.
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, library@litandphil.org.uk
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: info@vane.org.uk

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
legacy.
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.

Patience

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.

Michael Hamburger

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.”

Sebald Events February-March 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.

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.

Robert Walser

“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.

Happy travels!

Sebald Events October 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.

Patience (After Sebald) in North America

Grant Gee’s film Patience (After Sebald) will finally be arriving in North America.  It will show at the New York Film Festival (assuming the city survives Hurricane Irene…) on Sunday, October 2, 2011 at 3:30 PM.  Details here.  Then it will apparently go on to the Vancouver International Film Festival for a showing on October 5, although the festival schedule is not posted online yet.  I’ve written about Patience and Grant Gee several times before.

Eyewitnesses at Snape Maltings

Film still from Grant Gee’s Patience (After Sebald)

The first eye witness accounts of the recent Sebald events at Snape Maltings are beginning to appear online.  I highly recommend the substantial and intelligent post “After Sebald,”  over at Attic Fantasist, which gives both the flavor of the event and a running commentary.

The Financial Times‘ Ariane Bankes’ review of the weekend is also online.

Jonathan Derbyshire’s take on the weekend for the New Statesman is also now online.

[Vertigo is going dark for the next two weeks while I do some traveling, some of which will be to a place with sunshine, warmth and an ocean!]

Patti Smith, Reader & Writer

It’s now a few days after the Sebald event at Snape Maltings and I’m not finding much coverage online.  The Guardian hyped the Patti Smith concert and the Grant Gee film for days but doesn’t seem to have reviewed either one yet.  A couple of online writers have added their musings.  Check out Invective Against Swans Tumblr commentary and Skywritings blog post.

In case anyone was wondering about the connection between Patti Smith and Sebald, apparently she gave out a list of her favorite books at the Melbourne International Arts Festival a few years ago. It’s an interesting blend of cult books (e.g. The Glass Bead Game), the expected Beat classics, Beat must-reads (Rimbaud, Blake, et al), more than a handful of genuinely great books, and two I’ve never heard of before. Several authors rate high enough that Smith recommends all their books, including Sebald.

“The Master & Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov
“Journey To The East” by Hermann Hesse
“The Glass Bead Game” by Hermann Hesse
“Heart Of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad
“Moby Dick” by Herman Melville
“Billy Budd” by Herman Melville
“Songs Of Innocence” by William Blake
“The Wild Boys” by William Burroughs
“Howl” by Allen Ginsburg
“A Season In Hell” by Arthur Rimbaud
“Illuminations” by Arthur Rimbaud
“Wittgenstein’s Poker” by David Edmonds & John Eidinow
“Villette” by Charlotte Bronte
“The Process” by Brion Gysin
“Cain’s Book” by Alexander Trocchi
“Coriolanus” by William Shakespeare
“The Happy Prince” by Oscar Wilde
“The Sheltering Sky” by Paul Bowles
“Against Interpretation” by Susan Sontag
“The Oblivian Seekers” by Isabelle Eberhardt
“Women Of Cairo” by Gerard de Nerval
“Under The Volcano” by Malcom Lowery
“Dead Souls” by Nikolai Gogol
“The Book Of Disquiet” by Fernando Pessoa
“Death Of Virgil” by Herman Broch
“Raise High The Roof Beams Carpenter/ Franny & Zooey” by J.D. Salinger
“The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
“A Night Of Serious Drinking” by Rene Daumal
“Swann In Love” by Marcel Proust
“A Happy Death” by Albert Camus
“The First Man” by Albert Camus
“The Waves” by Virginia Woolf
“Big Sur” by Jack Kerouac
anything by H.P. Lovecraft
anything by W.G. Sebald
“The Thief’s Journal” or anything by Jean Genet
“The Arcades Project” or anything by Walter Benjamin
“A Poet In New York” by Garcia Lorca
“The Lost Honor Of Katharina Blum” by Heinrich Boll
“The Palm Wine Drinkard” by Amos Tutuola
“Ice” by Anna Kavan (or anything by her)
“The Divine Proportion” by H.E. Huntley
“Nadja” by Andre Breton

What’s next for Patti Smith?  Apparently a detective novel.

Let England Shake – Prepping for Snape Maltings

CD Cover for PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake

The Guardian has posted the previously announced video piece of their writer Stuart Jeffries in conversation with filmmaker Grant Gee.  At 4:33 it’s a mere snippet and doesn’t provide much foreshadowing of Grant Gee’s new film Patience (After Sebald), which premieres in two days.

There’s better reading in The Guardian‘s interview with Patti Smith, who will play a concert this coming Saturday night

where she will improvise work based on WG Sebald’s poem After Nature. She has spent the morning reading him, and “listening to Polly Harvey’s new song – she has this new song, The Words That Maketh Murder – what a great song. It just makes me happy to exist. Whenever anyone does something of worth, including myself, it just makes me happy to be alive. So I listened to that song all morning, totally happy.”

Patti Smith. Photograph: Richard Pak for the Guardian

Even better, skip all the journalism and watch the music video of PJ Harvey singing the song mentioned by Patti Smith, The Words that Maketh Murder, from her recent CD Let England Shake.

The Guardian Talks with Grant Gee About his Sebald Film

The Guardian has just put up a podcast which includes a conversation between their Stuart Jeffries and filmmaker Grant Gee.

Then we move to the Suffolk coast for a seaside walk with Grant Gee, a filmmaker who has tackled WG Sebald’s most famous work, The Rings of Saturn, in a film which is to be premiered next week in Aldeburgh. He tells Stuart Jeffries about the challenges of finding a visual language to match Sebald’s prose, and honouring the achievements of a writer who would have hated nothing more than having a blue plaque erected in his name.

The two take a walk along the Suffolk coast and talk about Gee’s film Patience (After Sebald), which premieres January 28.  If you want to listen only to this segment of the podcast, use the progress bar to skip directly to 27:00, where the nine-minute conversation begins.  At the end of the podcast, the host mentions that a film of the conversation will be posted in a week or so.

Artevents has put up an expanded description of the film, along with five film stills by Grant Gee (three are shown here).