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The Collection, Lincoln
15 Sep 07 16 Dec 07

Sainsbury Centre
for Visual Arts

30 Jan 24 Jun 07

Norwich Castle
Museum & Art Gallery

3 Feb 15 Apr 07

Film and Video Umbrella

Arts Council
Tacita Dean

Continuing her ongoing series of film portraits, Tacita Dean’s, ‘Michael Hamburger’ (2007), is a moving portrayal of the poet and translator, a resident of Middleton and great friend of Sebald, who sadly died in June 2007, a few months after the film was completed. In its 28 minutes, the film quietly observes the poet in his Suffolk home, its strata of books and papers now somewhat familiar through Sebald’s photographs reproduced in The Rings of Saturn. The natural and the cultural seep further into one another: sunlight dissolves the frames of the windows, the most insubstantial of thresholds between this home, only one-room-deep, and what lies outdoors; a rainbow marks its watery geometry in the sky; the apples age upon the ground, shrunken, and yet somehow becoming more intensely themselves.

Although Hamburger is said to despair of reviews of his poetry which declare that he is ‘better known as a translator’, we might detect a similar deprecation of his self, by himself, in the film which shares his name. Unwilling, perhaps unable, to talk of his past and his migrations, most especially fleeing Nazism in 1933, he talks poignantly, instead, of the apple trees in his garden, of where they have come from, and of their careful cross-breeding. Purity is dismissed, and one senses with an awkward pathos that the poet is translating himself.

Michael Hamburger
(2007), location photographs

Courtesy of Frith Street Gallery, London and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York/Paris