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Workshop | Celan in der bildenden Kunst der Gegenwart // Celan in Contemporary Art

Mar 02, 2023 - Mar 03, 2023

deutsch | english

Organised by Diego León-Villagrá (Freie Universität Berlin) and Friederike Felicitas Günther (Freie Universität Berlin), Research Area 4: "Literary Currencies".

Conference languages will be English and German. Simultaneous translation for German contributions will be provided.

Paul Celan speaks of 'testing and divining' regarding both the work of Gisèle Celan-Lestrange – who cited his work in many of her images – and modern French graphical print in general. Like Celan's own poetry, he deemed this art form to be 'only apparently abstract, non-representational; its crystallographic gestures formulas rendered visible.' The tentative yet fertile examination of the life and work of Paul Celan within the visual arts is an ongoing phenomenon. It is reflected in both traditional and modern forms of expression within the visual arts, present across a range of media and formal representations. Celan's experiments on the periphery of language – crystalline witnesses of a poetry that, under existential distress, invoke a barely existent counterpart – still find a deep resonance in the visual arts to this day.

In recent years, there have been several exhibitions with a conceptual focus on the work of Paul Celan, for example 'Corona' in the Dvir Gallery, Brussels (2020), featuring works by Ariel Schlesinger, Douglas Gordon, Latifa Echakhch, Mircea Cantor, Miroslaw Balka and Sarah Ortmeyer; 'Hommage an Paul Celan' (2020), with works by Thomas Duttenhoefer, Alexander Polzin, Joseph Semah and Markus Daum; and 'Sand aus den Uhren', curated by Benjamin Kaufmann, in the Angewandte Innovation Laboratory, Vienna (2016). The works of Edmund de Waal and Anselm Kiefer in particular received widespread international attention, especially Kiefer's exhibition 'Pour Paul Celan', curated by Chris Dercon and opened by Emmanuel Macron, which featured monumental paintings measuring up to 4 x 13 metres in the Grand Palais Ephémère, Paris (2021/22). The global nature of the interest in the work of Paul Celan can be seen in the oeuvres of Joseph Semah (*1948 in Baghdad, Iraq), Doris Salcedo (*1958 in Bogotá, Colombia), Latifa Echakhch (*1974 in El-Khnansa, Morocco) and Ariel Schlesinger (*1980 in Jerusalem, Israel).

The workshop in the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin features visual artists discussing their relationship to Celan's life and work through conversations and presentations. These conversations will be accompanied by academic contributions and discussions about individual art works. Using selected installations, sculptures, graphic novels and paintings created since the year 2000, contributors will address the visual transformations and continuations that have emanated from Celan's work. The interdisciplinary question of how these readings contrast, correspond or complement each other from an artistic and philological perspective, together with the question of the specific hermeneutics of individual artists, will be given a central emphasis. Which works and aspects of Celan's life are thematised in the visual arts – and why? What are the observable media transfer dynamics? Can this media transfer also relate to the linguistic translation processes that Celan often addressed in his own work? How does contemporary visual art complement Celan's work?

Such questions will form the starting point of the workshop, which will take place in front of a small number of guests but will also be broadcast digitally to participants around the world.

Selected contributions from the workshop will be incorporated into the forum Celan-Perspektiven 5 (2023).


Thursday, 2 March

14:00-15:30 | Friederike Günther, Diego León-Villagrá (Freie Universität Berlin), and Peter Dietze (Literarisches Colloquium Berlin): Opening

Karen Leeder (University of Oxford): After Celan: Celan and Modern Art

Online Talk: Edmund de Waal with Diego León-Villagrá

16:00-17:30 | Annette Jael Lehmann (Freie Universität Berlin): 'Pour Celan' – Anselm Kiefer and Beyond

Online Talk: Mirosław Bałka with Annette Jael Lehmann

18:00-20:00 | Talk: Alexander Polzin and Joseph Semah with David Wachter and Friederike Günther

Friday, 3 March 

9:30-11:00 | Markus May (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München): 'Nach dem Lichtverzicht'. Reflexionen zum Umgang mit Paul Celan in der zeitgenössischen Kunst

Talk: Markus Daum with Katharina Schwarz (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)

11:30-13:00 | Pablo Turnes (Universidad de Buenos Aires, Freie Universität Berlin): The Wound of Philoctetes: Purging the Poison out of Collective Memories

Talk: Yirmi Pinkus with Pablo Turnes

14:00-15:30 | Online talk: Sarah Ortmeyer with Jana Maria Weiß (Freie Universität Berlin)

Talk: Carolin Schmidt and Margaret Schlenkrich (Kollektiv »kaboom«) with Ira Klinkenbusch (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Time & Location

Mar 02, 2023 - Mar 03, 2023

Literarisches Colloquium Berlin
Am Sandwerder 5
14109 Berlin

Further Information

Diego León-Villagrá: d.leon-villagra@fu-berlin.de. The workshop is open for participacion and will take place in person and online. For online participation, please register in advance via e-mail until March 1, 2023.