Sebald Variations

The Art of Storytelling

The exhibition is a conversation between art and literature. It takes as its starting point, the work and the figure of the German writer W.G. Sebald (1944-2001), the author of some of the key books of the turn of the last century, such as The Rings of Saturn and Austerlitz. «Sebald Variations » recreates the dialogue between Sebald and renowned  artists and writers who have been invited to take part in the project, such as Carlos Amorales, Susan Hiller, Taryn Simon and Trevor Paglen. It will also be presenting new pieces by Jeremy Wood and Andrea Geyer, which have been specially commissioned by the CCCB for the exhibition.

Exhibition opens as part of the Kosmopolis 2015 Festival (18th to 22nd March 2015)

The CCCB is organising the exhibition “Sebald Variations” in which the German writer and author of some of the key books of the turn of the last century will become the linking thread in questioning the history of the 20th century and its impact on the 21st century.

W.G. Sebald remains in limbo. His premature death in a car accident in 2001, just when his works were beginning to receive widespread acclaim, canonised him. However, he hasn’t let himself be embalmed, nor has he disappeared. Sebald remains very much alive. His books still attract readers because the questions they asked still have to find their definitive answers. Sebald continues to question us about memory, history, literature, art, the contemporary.

The exhibition shows works by the following artists: Carlos Amorales, Mariana Castillo Deball, Simon Faithfull, Andrea Geyer, Pablo Helguera, Núria Güell, Susan Hiller, Josiah McElheny, Trevor Paglen, Fernando Sánchez Castillo, Taryn Simon, Jan Peter Tripp, Guido Van der Werve,  Jeremy Wood. It will also include contributions from the following writers: Piedad Bonnett, Jorge Carrión, Julià de Jòdar, Reinaldo Laddaga, Valeria Luiselli.

His works, written in the German of his childhood, are nostalgic, evocative, a hybrid of images and texts, as well as a hybrid of travel writing, novels and essays. They are autobiographical yet interested in collective history. Profoundly poetic, they explore most of the great themes of the 20th century: migrations, individual memory, historic discourses, political violence, trauma, the figure of the author, travel, tourism, memory maps, intertextuality, archives, documentaries and art and literature as ethical instruments of restitution.

The exhibition “Sebald Variations” seeks to introduce a critical reflection, and recount the different ways his work has influenced and engaged in a dialogue with the visual arts and literature since his passing in 2001. The exhibition examines the way several conceptual strategies for using images with texts, for historical reflection, for the unexpected juxtaposition of scenes and narrativity as a whole, not only appear in Sebald’s work, but have, on countless occasions, been directly or indirectly alluded to and even included in the works of a number of artists. The exhibition takes into account the different exhibitions, publications and artworks associated with Sebald that have been produced since 2001, or which enter into a dialogue with his books, in order to look at his ongoing impact on the artistic endeavours of today from a new perspective.

The project has been conceived as a visual and textual essay that brings together the voice of the author and other creators working in different fields. It pursues Sebald, comments on him, prolongs him and draws him out of himself in order to create new proposals in his company.

The exhibition will feature originals and facsimiles of manuscripts and correspondence between Sebald and Jan Peter Tripp from the Marbach Archive / German Literature Archive and Jan Peter Tripp’s personal archive. Works by 13 contemporary artists. The Sebald Theatre,an exhibit by Pablo Helguera which is also an activity space. And sound works by 4 contemporary writers about Sebald’s world and the exhibition itself.

Sebald's works

1985. Die Beschreibung des Unglücks. Zur österreichischen Literatur von Stifter bis Handke (Fischer: Fránkfort del Main). Trad. 2005. «La descripción de la infelicidad», Pútrida patria. Ensayos sobre literatura. Trad. de Miguel Sáenz, pp. 9-104 (Anagrama: Barcelona).

1988. Nach der Natur. Ein Elementargedicht (Fischer: Fráncfort del Main). Trad. 2004. Del natural. Trad. de Miguel Sáenz (Anagrama: Barcelona).

1990. Schwindel. Gefühle (Eichborn: Fránkfort del Main. Trad. 2001. Vértigo. Trad. de Carmen Gómez (Madrid: Debate) [Reeditado por Anagrama].

1991. Unheimliche Heimat. Essays zur österreichischen Literatur (Fischer: Fráncfort del Main). Trad. «Pútrida patria», Pútrida patria. Ensayos sobre literatura. Trad. de Miguel Sáenz, pp. 107-228 (Anagrama: Barcelona).

1992. Die Ausgewanderten. Vier lange Erzählungen. (Eichborn: Fránkfort del Main). Trad. 2000. Los emigrados. Trad. de Teresa Ruiz Rosas (Debate: Madrid) [Reeditado por Anagrama]. Trad. 2001. Els emigrats. Trad. d’Anna Soler Horta (Edicions 62: Barcelona).

1995. Die Ringe des Saturn. Eine englische Wallfahrt (Eichborn: Fráncfort del Main). Trad. 2000. Los anillos de Saturno. Una peregrinación inglesa. Trad. de Carmen Gómez y Georg Pichler (Debate: Madrid) [Reeditado por Anagrama].

1998. Logis in einem Landhaus. Über Gottfried Keller, Johann Peter Hebel, Robert Walser und andere (Hanser: Múnich, Viena). Trad. 2013, A Place in the Country, trad. de Jo Catling (Random House: Nueva York). Trad. 2007 de un capítulo como  El paseante solitario: en recuerdo de Robert Walser, trad. de Miguel Sáenz (Madrid: Siruela).

1999. Luftkrieg und Literatur. Mit einem Essay zu Alfred Andersch (Hanser: Múnich, Viena). Trad. 2003. Sobre la historia natural de la destrucción. Trad. de Miguel Sáenz (Barcelona: Anagrama).

2001. Austerlitz (Hanser: Múnich, Viena).  Trad. 2003. Austerlitz, trad. de Miguel Sáenz (Barcelona: Anagrama). Trad. 2003. Austerlitz, trad. de Anna Soler Horta (Barcelona: Edicions 62).

2003. For years now. Imágenes de Tess Jaray (Short Books: Londres). 2003. Unerzählt. Imágenes de Jan Peter Tripp (Hanser: Múnich, Viena). Trad. 2007. Sin contar, trad. de María Teresa Ruiz Camacho y Katja Wirth (Nórdica: Madrid).

2003. Campo Santo (Hanser: Múnich, Viena). Trad. 2010. Campo Santo, trad. de Miguel Sáenz (Barcelona: Anagrama).

2008. Über das Land und das Wasser. Ausgewählte Gedichte 1964-2001 (Hanser: Múnich, Viena). Trad. 2011. Across the Land and the Water: Selected Poems 1964-2001, trad. de Iain Galbraith (Random House: Nueva York).

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Produced by

Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona