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Posts tagged ‘W.G. Sebald’

Sebald Symposium in London November 29, 2018

Leonardo da Vinci, Whirlpools of Water. Windsor, Royal Library.

The Institute of Advance Studies at University College London has announced a one-day symposium on W.G. Sebald. There is a call for papers “on any aspect of turbulence, in the widest sense.” Proposals are due November 8. See below for details, or visit the website. For more on the topic of turbulence, look here.

Call for Papers

Turbulence: The Work of W.G. Sebald

An Interdisciplinary Symposium

Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS), UCL, London, 29 November 2018

This symposium explores the theme of turbulence in the literary work of W.G. Sebald (1944-2001), from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Sebald’s work is celebrated for its rich and complex accounts of journeys, including by air, a mode of travel which we commonly associate with the distinctive feeling of turbulence. In addition however, our enquiry considers the idea of turbulence in wider senses. We link it for instance to the vertiginous sensations of travel in general in this writing, and recognise that turbulence may not end on arrival, for a destination, once reached, can itself seem disorienting and to shift in uncanny ways. We are interested too in turbulent experiences of travels into the past, memory and intertextuality; and those produced for the reader by Sebald’s complex poetics and narrative techniques. Crucially too, we will investigate the multi-disciplinary, multilingual travels which Sebald’s writing undertakes into new languages, media, forms and contexts as other artists engage with it in their own work, and we look forward to conversations with distinguished practitioners in a variety of fields. 

Speakers include poet Stephen Watts; novelist, academic and critic Angharad Price (Prifysgol Bangor) and visual artist Simon Faithfull (Slade School of Fine Art).

Our symposium will be followed on the morning of Friday 30 November by an exploration of parts of the East London featured in Sebald’s novel Austerlitz, on a guided walk with Stephen Watts and David Anderson (UCL).

 Call for Papers

We invite twenty-minute papers on any aspect of turbulence, in the widest sense, and attendant phenomena in the work of W.G. Sebald and others. We are especially interested in submissions which address interdisciplinary and comparative aspects of our themes.

Please submit an abstract (200 words) and a short biography (100 words) to Mererid Puw Davies, Department of German / SELCS, UCL (mererid.davies@ucl.ac.uk), by 8 November 2018. Speakers will be notified by 12 November 2018. 

Registration and Further Details

Both the symposium and the walk are free to attend. All are welcome and online registration will open soon. In the meantime, please send any questions or register your attendance with an email to mererid.davies@ucl.ac.uk.

Vienna Exhibition Focuses on Sebald

Croy Nielsen

Tess Jaray, “Sketch from a letter to W.G. Sebald,” circa 1999. Pencil on photocopy.

“All’estero & Dr. K.’s Badereise nach Riva: Version B,” a group exhibition at the Croy Nielsen gallery in Vienna, takes its inspiration from two chapters in W.G. Sebald’s Vertigo (Schwindel. Gefühle). Curated by Saim Demircan, this is part of an annual “gallery share” event called, appropriately, “curated_by,” which involves twenty-one galleries across Vienna.

The exhibition runs from September 13 to October 27, 2018 and includes work by Marc Camille Chaimowicz, Whitney Claflin, Oliver Croy and Oliver Elser, Stephan Dillemuth, Georgia Gardner Gray, Rochelle Goldberg, Philipp Gufler, Ernst Herbeck, Tess Jaray, Martin Kippenberger, Nick Mauss, Marina Sula, Mark Van Yetter, Dario Wokurka, and Miriam Yammad.  Here’s the explanatory text from the gallery’s website:

In the second and third chapters of Schwindel. Gefühle, writer W.G. Sebald makes repeated trips from Vienna to Venice, firstly as himself, or rather, a version of himself in 1980 and 1987; and then again following a certain Dr K. in 1913, who travels on to a sanatorium in Riva at Lake Garda.

As well as dizziness, on its own the German Schwindel also means swindle, deception and legerdemain. Similarly, the text is a confidence trick. In the chapter ​‘Dr K. Takes the Waters at Riva’, Dr K. is Franz Kafka, and the passage between Austria and Italy is based on a documented business trip made by the Czech writer when he worked at Prague Worker’s Insurance Company.

Duplicitous mirroring of literary figures and historiography through mental projection and travel is an inherent characteristic of Sebald’s writing. Authors, playwrights and poets cameo throughout these chapters, either directly or obliquely. In Vienna, he thinks he sees Dante on Gonzagagasse and meets Ernst Herbeck. Dr K. dines with Grillparzer at Hotel Matschakerhof and visits the Prater with Otto Pick and Albert Ehrenstein, whose similitude can be seen in a photograph of them ​‘taken as if passengers on an aeroplane, which appears to be flying above the big Ferris wheel and the spires of the Votivkirche’.

Elsewhere, in Venice, Sebald meets Salvatore Altamura, who shares the firstname of the burgomaster in Kafka’s short story The Hunter Gracchus, and is reimagined by the writer as ​‘Salvatore, the podestà in Riva’. He also speculates on whether Dr K. saw the 1913 German Expressionist film Der Student von Prag at the cinema Pathé di San Sebastiano and ​‘recognized a kind of doppelgänger’ in the scene where the reflection of the eponymous hero walks out of a mirror.

Recurring symbolism, paranoiac doubling, and in-between states such as hypnagogic hallucination distort the text with signs and both chapters are rich with premonition. As such, ​‘All’estero & Dr K. Takes the Waters at Riva: Version B’ creates another layer of duplication through exhibition-making, using narrative devices that connect these two chapters to illustrate the writer’s complex fictionalization of his own life. Intertextuality, resemblance, and the mnemonic in relation to place feature prominently in artworks, ephemera and literature that take inspiration from Sebald’s writing. With an accent on the city as the origin of this journey, the show charts an ambulatory route connecting events, characters and affect.

Text by Saim Demircan

Croy Nielsen

Installation view.

Croy Nielsen. Parkring 4, 1010 Vienna, Austria.

Sebald Audio Books

I thought it might worthwhile to do a roundup of the W.G. Sebald audio books available as of today, August 2018. The first six of the titles below are available for individual purchase (as downloads) via Audible, either individually or through an Audible subscription. Click here to see Sebald’s titles on Audible, where sample sections may be heard. Three of these titles are also available for download purchase at Audiobookstore.com, where the prices are somewhat cheaper. Sample sections can be heard here, too. All English-language titles are available for download at iTunes—along with several podcasts in English & German about Sebald).

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English-language audio books.

Austerlitz audio

Austerlitz. Narrator: Richard Matthews. (Audible, Audiobookstore.com & iTunes)

Emigrants Audio

The Emigrants. Narrator: Mel Foster. (Audible, Audiobookstore.com & iTunes)

Adelwarth radio play

The Emigrants: Ambros Adelwarth (Edward Kemp radio play adaptation). (Audible & iTunes) This adaptation of the third section of The Emigrants was originally broadcast  on BBC Radio 3, starring John Wood, Henry Goodman, Eleanor Bron, Ed Bishop, Margaret Robertson, Andrew Sachs, Cosmo Solomon, Thomas Arnold, Jasmine Hyde and Maximilian Graber. Music by Gary Yershon. Directed by Edward Kemp. Warning! The Amazon page for this title is very misleading. Only the Audible Audiobook link genuinely leads you to the Kemp radio play. All of the other links (Kindle, Hardcover, Paperback & MP3) actually take you to versions of Sebald’s The Emigrants.

Natural History audio

On the Natural History of Destruction. Narrator: Simon Vance. (Audible,  Audiobookstore.com & iTunes)

Rings Thalia audio

Rings of Saturn. Dinau Mengestu, Rick Moody, Hari Kunzru, Denis O’Hare. Although it is announced at the start of this recording that actor Denis O’Hare will begin by reading an excerpt from Sebald’s book, this is not part of the audiobook, probably due to copyright reasons. So this audiobook consists of the three writers having a conversation about Sebald’s book and answering audience questions. This seems to be part of something called Thalia’s Book Club, which is geared to “avid readers ages 9-14” sponsored by New York’s Symphony Space. (Audible & iTunes) (You can also listen to this on SoundCloud.)

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German-language audio books.

Austerlitz CD box1

Austerlitz. Narrator: Michael Krüger. This is an 9 CD audiobook of the original German text. Locations for purchasing a CD or download can be seen at the German website for Random House audio books. (iTunes) Even thought this runs more than 11 hours long, it is only $19.95 on iTunes and €22.95 at buecher.de.

Ausgewanderten audio

 

Die Ausgewanderten. Narrator: Paul Herwig. This is a 7 CD audio book of the original German text for The Emigrants. €20.00. Available at the Winter & Winter website.

 

80th Anniversary of the Kindertransport

UCL Festival

All next week, University College London is holding its annual Festival of Culture. The list of programs looks great, especially this Sebald-related event:

A Refugee Child in WW2 London
Friday 8 June, 12.30-1.30pm
Institute of Archaeology G6 Lecture Theatre

This event marks the 80th anniversary of the first of the Kindertransports in 1938, in which thousands of refugee children came to Britain from Nazi-occupied Europe, many of them passing through London via Liverpool Street station. We’ll explore one of our century’s greatest novels, W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz (2001), about a Jewish child who comes to London on a Kindertransport from Prague and recounts his search in later life for his, and Europe’s, lost past.

This is a panel event including talks, film screening and discussion with the audience. Speakers Dr Zoltán Biedermann, Prof. Stephanie Bird, Dr Mererid Puw Davies and Prof. Mairéad Hanrahan are from UCL’s School of European Languages, Culture and Society (SELCS).

All are welcome. Tickets are free and can be booked here:

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/festival-of-culture/events/festival-of-culture-friday-8-june-2018

I’m not sure how four speakers, a film screening, and a discussion will fit into a single hour…

London Review Bookshop Event – April 23

Patience Preview

I’ll be visiting London and Cambridge in April and the folks at the London Review Bookshop have invited me to join in a program celebrating the 20th anniversary of the publication in Great Britain of W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn. Grant Gee will be screening his terrific film Patience (After Sebald). Here’s the LRB’s program preview:

Marking 20 years since the translation into English of the late W.G Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn, one of the most remarkable books of the late twentieth century, Grant Gee introduces his acclaimed 2011 documentary essay film tracking both the journey taken in the volume, and the work’s own influence on numerous writers, artists and thinkers.

He will be joined in conversation by the film’s creative consultant, writer and critic Chris Darke, and Terry Pitts, founder of the remarkable literary blog Vertigo, founded out of a profound admiration for Sebald’s work. The evening is hosted by Gareth Evans.

You can purchase tickets for the 7:00 PM event at the LRB website. Come say hello!

In preparation for watching Patience, take a listen to the film’s hauntingly beautiful score by The Caretaker over at Bandcamp. Leyland Kirby (aka The Caretaker) used Franz Schubert’s 1827 piece Winterreise as his source material, which he “subjected to his perplexing processes, smudging and rubbing isolated fragments into a dust-caked haze of plangent keys, strangely resolved loops and de-pitched vocals which recede from view as eerily as they appear.”

Sebald, Dance, Seattle

Bill T Jones Adelwarth

Since 2014, the Bill  T. Jones/Arne Zane Company has been developing a trilogy of major, evening-length dances, one of which is based on the Ambros Adelwarth segment of W.G. Sebald’s The Emigrants. That trilogy is about to be performed in Seattle at the University of Washington on the evenings of February 1, 2, and 3. Here are the details from the University’s website.

Bill T. Jones’s latest work, Analogy: A Trilogy, is comprised of three evening-length works that reflect Jones’s fierce engagement with race, class, gender, history, and identity. Over three nights, Meany Center will present the entire trilogy (one of the first ever presentations in the country). The program, which features a live music soundscape, searches for the connection between three stories, focusing on memory and the effect of powerful events on the inner lives of individuals.

PROGRAM A | THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 1
DORA: TRAMONTANE
The first work from Analogy stems from an oral history Jones conducted with 95-year old Dora Amelan, a French Jewish nurse and survivor of WWII. Dora is a meditation on perseverance, resourcefulness and resilience while suggesting the amorphous nature of memory.

PROGRAM B | FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2
LANCE: PRETTY AKA THE ESCAPE ARTIST
Based on an oral history Jones conducted with his nephew, Lance T. Briggs. Lance is a tragic, yet humorous journey through the sex trade, drug use and excess during the 1980s.

PROGRAM C | FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3
AMBROS: THE EMIGRANT
This final program in Analogy is based on Ambros Adelwarth, a German valet to a dissipated, young scion of a wealthy Jewish family, from W. G. Sebald’s celebrated historical novel, The Emigrants. Ambros is an exploration of how trauma can go underground in the psyche to direct the course of an individual’s life.

Click here for more information and tickets.

Bill T. Jones Debuts “Analogy Trilogy: Ambros: The Emigrant”

Three years ago I wrote about the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company’s plans to develop a dance around the Ambros Adelwarth segment of W.G. Sebald’s The Emigrants. “Analogy/Ambros: The Emigrant” just had its world premiere on July 21, 2017 at Dancer’s Workshop in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The dance is the final section of a trilogy which was first performed as a unit on the nights of July 27-29 at American Dance Festival 2017 in Durham, North Carolina. There is a 9 1/2 minute interview with Bill T. Jones on the dance on Soundcloud. The 90-minute dance  was reviewed by Susan Broili in the Raleigh, North Carolina newspaper The News & Observer, in which the following excerpt appeared:

“Analogy/Ambros: The Emigrant” begins with the live sound of whispering voices and Bill T. Jones’ recorded recitation of evocative text from W. G. Sebald’s The Emigrants, a fictionalized history of four men, including Ambros Adelwarth, a German manservant who serves as companion to Cosmo, the privileged son of a wealthy Jewish family. The narrative tracks Ambros’ experience traveling with Cosmo, through Europe and the Middle East on the eve of WWII.

The recorded text describes how Ambros Adelwarth and his charge, Cosmo, asleep on the deck of a steam ship on their way to an excursion abroad, are visited by a quail, who lands on Cosmo, settles down to sleep, and then flies away in the morning.

 In this work, Jones and collaborators, who include assistant artistic director Janet Wong, amaze with their scope and with the engaging quality of the multi-media elements woven seamlessly into the work.

The live music provides a rare treat as does the dancers’ singing with professional flare. Most of the time, their singing, both in solos and in harmony with others, is achingly beautiful.

The following is from the dance’s program as posted on the ADF website.

ANALOGY/AMBROS: THE EMIGRANT (2017)
Conceived and Directed by Bill T. Jones.
Choreography by Bill T. Jones with Janet Wong and the Company.
Text based on “Ambros Adelwarth” from The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald, performed with the permission of The Wylie Agency, LLC. All rights reserved.
Written by Bill T. Jones and Adrian Silver.
Original Score Composed by Nick Hallett.
Music Performed by Nick Hallett and Emily Manzo.
Décor by Bjorn Amelan.
Lighting Design by Robert Wierzel.
Costume Design by Liz Prince.
Video Design by Janet Wong.
Sound Design by Sam Crawford.
Dramaturgy by Adrian Silver.

Score includes musical themes based upon “Nachtstück” by Franz Schubert and :Alinde” by Franz Schubert.
Guitars recorded by Sam Crawford and Zach Layton.
Recorded strings performed by Pauline Kim Harris (violin) and Clarice Jensen (cello).

PROGRAM NOTES
The Analogy Trilogy, which Bill T. Jones has been working on since 2013 with Janet Wong and the company, continues the company’s exploration of how text, storytelling, and movement pull and push against one other and how another experience can be had through the combination and recombination of these elements. All three works, while wildly different, consider the nature of  service, duty, and the question of what is a life well lived. Director’s Note – Analogy/Ambros: The Emigrant

“Memory, often strikes me as a kind of dumbness. It makes one’s head heavy and giddy, as if one were not looking back down the receding perspectives of time but rather down on the earth from a great height, from one of those towers whose tops are lost to view in the clouds.”
–W.G. Sebald

I found two future performances of “Analogy/Ambros:The Emigrant”: November 18, 2017, Gammage Auditorium, Arizona State University, Tempe. February 3, 2018, Meany Center for the Performing Arts, University of Washington, Seattle.

 

Photo: Paul B. Goode

Austerlitz CD

Austerlitz CD box1

A new nine-CD audio set of W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz has just been issued. The entire book is read by Michael Krüger, Sebald’s long-time friend and publisher. Plus, there is a section of Austerlitz read by Sebald in 2001 at the Unterberg Poetry Center of New York’s 92 Street Y, which can be seen on YouTube. Krüger gives an excellent reading of Sebald’s final novel, speaking in a gentle, slow intonation that sounds much like Sebald himself. There is also a related six-minute podcast reviewing the new CD set that can be heard (and downloaded) at the website of WDR3. From 1968 to 2013, Krüger worked at Carl Hanser Verlag, which was Sebald’s German publisher from 1998 until 2008.

In Europe, the CD set is available from multiple sources that have links on the Random House website. In the US, the set can be purchased from multiple sources through Amazon. The list price is surprising affordable at €29,99 in Europe, with prices starting at $35 in the US.

[This post was edited and updated after I received my copy of the CD set.]

The Arca Project: An Exhibition Inspired by the Work of W.G.Sebald

steven-scott-resized[print for the Arca Project by Steven Scott]

More than fifteen years after his death, the writings of W.G. Sebald continue to inspire artists and exhibitions. The latest example is an announcement by the PayneShurvell gallery, whose next exhibition will be “The Arca Project: An Exhibition Inspired by the Work of W.G.Sebald.” According to their website, “The Arca Project is an exhibition consisting of 16 visual and 16 textual responses to one single image. Each response has been realised as a limited edition print, developed and made by Invisible Print Studio.” The exhibition is scheduled to open April 1 at a location about a half hour north of Ipswich in Suffolk, England (details at their website).

In the same way that The Rings of Saturn takes a single idea, a walking tour, to open up a wide range of ideas and conversations, The Arca Project sent 16 international artists and 16 writers exactly the same image and asked them to interpret the image as they wished (the only limitation was the uniform paper orientation and size). The recurrence of this image offers many interpretations. All are fictitious. It is a game of false interpretations. The idea is to have artists and writers in a Sebaldian mix of fact and fiction, documentary and reality.

This exhibition, which will take place in a new space outside of Debenham, brings Sebald’s wanderer back full-circle to the county that inspired him. Additional events, including films and talks, will take place during the run of the exhibition. The Arca Project draws its title from an essay by Graeme Gilloch, “The ‘Arca Project’: W.G.Sebald’s Corsica.”

For the opening on April 1 we will be showing the film, Patience (After Sebald) on a loop. We will also have two curator led tours of the show at 4pm and 6pm.

Artists and writers involved include Andrew Bick, Craig Burnett, Andrew Curtis, Karen Engle, Adam Fish, Emma Fraser, Lindsey Freeman, Graeme Gilloch, Steph Goodger, Oona Grimes, Tony Grisoni, Catherine Haines, Michael Hall, Molly Jarboe, Jaeho Kang, Naiza Khan, Jane Kilby, Abigail Lane, Richard Makin, Bob Matthews, Bruce McLean, Ana Milenkovic, Simon Patterson, Tony Plant, Daniel Rapley, Fabio La Rocca, Julian Rowe, Martina Schmid, Steven Scott, Allen Shelton, Erik Steinskog and Jo Stockham.

The Arca Project is curated by Michael Hall and Graeme Gilloch and will be presented by PayneShurvell.

One of the curators, Michael Hall, has written about the inspiration for the exhibition over at Artlyst. “When I conceived The Arca Project my intention was to devise a way of incorporating the essence of W.G. Sebald within a project. I never wanted to merely pay homage to him but to develop new work through his influence.” According to Hall, “The image used in this exhibition has nothing to do with Sebald though…. I guess you must make of it what you will.”

There were a few rules though:

1.     Textual responses write about the image.

2.     Visual responses work directly over the top of the image.

3.     Size and orientation would be standardised.

4.     They are exhibited as diptychs – 1 textual response and 1 visual response.

5.     There are as many responses as years since W.G. Sebald’s death.

6.     They are moved around daily.

New Sebald Handbook

springer-verlag-handbook

Springer Verlag and J.B Metzler have just announced a significant handbook on W.G. Sebald. W.G. Sebald-Handbuch: Leben – Werk – Wirkung, edited by Claudia Öhlschläger and Michael Niehaus. I don’t have any further information about the volume’s contents, beyond what can be found on the publisher’s website. The hardcover version is scheduled for release on March 22, 2017. An ebook is also forthcoming. Details here.

The volume contains contributions from a number of Sebald researchers, who deal with his entire body of work as a writer. Essays cover Sebald’s themes (trauma and memory, the natural history of destruction, the Holocaust, home, etc.) as well as the characteristics of his writing (intertextuality, the connection of text and image, etc.), his guiding motifs (melancholy, travel), and the presence of other media (photography, painting, architecture) in his texts. From the publisher’s website:

Trotz seines schmalen Œuvres wurde kein deutschsprachiger Autor der Gegenwartsliteratur international so intensiv und kontrovers diskutiert wie W.G. Sebald, der fünfzehn Jahre nach seinem Tod bereits zum kanonischen Autor geworden ist. Die Beiträge namhafter Sebald-Forscher erschließen in diesem Handbuch die verschiedenen Facetten und Ebenen des gesamten literarischen und essayistischen Werks. Sebalds Themen (Trauma und Erinnerung, die Naturgeschichte der Zerstörung, Holocaust, Heimat) werden ebenso beleuchtet wie die Merkmale seines Schreibens (Intertextualität, Bastelei, Verbindung von Text und Bild, Stil), seine Leitmotive (Melancholie, Reisen) sowie die Präsenz anderer Medien und Künste (Photographie, Malerei, Architektur) in seinen Texten. Eigene Teile sind den für Sebald wichtigsten Referenzautoren und der nationalen und internationalen Rezeption gewidmet.