SCREENING TACITA DEAN, 'MICHAEL HAMBURGER', 2007
Tacita Dean’s Michael Hamburger (2007) portrays the poet, translator and W.G. Sebald's friend Michael Hamburger. In the film, the poet is seen in his house and among the apple trees in his garden. His and Sebald's migratory biographies are shared by the apple varieties. Their variety of origin and rich flavors are rarely seen in supermarkets: tougher than their popular cousins, they have had to survive in unfamiliar soil.
In 2007, Sebald had already died, and Hamburger’s own death followed the same year, a few months after Dean completed the film. The film is framed by a rainbow and a concluding poem, which establish broader references and possibilities for interpretations, owing not least to the 16mm film medium's own life after its supposed obsolescence.
Tacita Dean is among the most thoughtful artists mediating Sebald's artistic legacy and an eminent artist and researcher who intervenes through both word and film in the debates surrounding the conference's themes.
KEYNOTE – JAMES ELKINS
Models for Word and Image: from Rodenbach to Fernandez Mallo
The prevalence of Sebald in studies of fictional narratives that incorporate images has led to a lack of theorization of other practices. Sebald’s practice is generally to anchor the image in its surrounding text in such a way that the reader is led up to, into, and past the image with minimal interruption in the flow of reading. In that way his narratives can explore continuous paths of memory on which images are passing way stations. It is also possible to permit images to slow down the narrative, or to draw readers repeatedly back to the images, or to use images to cast doubt on the narrator or the narration. Elkins will compare Sebald’s practices to what can be found in Georges Rodenbach, Breton, Tan Lin, Anne Carson, Christian Bök, Fernandez Mallo, Philipp Weiss, and others, in order to suggest that Sebald is only one example of a long discontinuous history of writing on images.
James Elkins is C. Chadbourne Professor of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He received his BA, cum laude in 1977 from Cornell University; his MFA and MA in 1983, and in 1989 his PhD with honors from University of Chicago. His publications include: Pictures and Tears: A History of People Who Have Cried in Front of Paintings; Chinese Landscape Painting as Western Art History; Pictures of the Body: Pain and Metamorphosis; The Domain of Images; How to Use Your Eyes; What Painting Is; The Poetics of Perspective; The Object Stares Back: On the Nature of Seeing; Why are our Pictures Puzzles?; On Pictures and the Words That Fail Them; What Happened to Art Criticism?; Six Stories from the End of Representation; Visual Studies: A Skeptical Introduction; What Photography Is; Art Critiques: A Guide.