Adaptation: Poem to Graphic

Screib dich nicht (Nachlass)

Shmuel ben Yitzchak’s graphic image Schreib dich nicht (Nachlass)–or, Don’t write yourself (Deduction)–was completed in 2001. The title is largely taken from the opening line of an untitled poem by Paul Celan. As such, ben Yitzchak’s work is an adaptation of Celan’s poem.

How does one present the two works together? If they were exhibited in a physical gallery, they might be positioned next to one another. Even then, which one would be placed where? Would the priority of Celan’s poem (ben Yitzchak’s graphic was “inspired” by the poem) have any implications for their joint exhibition in a physical gallery? Would that mean the poem would be displayed to the left (or top) while the graphic would be displayed to the right (or bottom)?

Of course, in a physical exhibition the original size of ben Yitzchak’s (36 by 44 cm) would be a consideration as well. Or maybe the two works might be positioned in different parts of the gallery room–or even different rooms.

Many, though not all, of the possibilities for jointly exhibiting the two works poem and graphic in a physical gallery carry over to their exhibition in a virtual gallery. The virtual gallery cannot reproduce the physical presence of the two works in a physical gallery in which the observers move about while the exhibits do not. However, in the virtual gallery, the exhibits can move about. Shouldn’t that open up new possibilities?

Enough questions for now. I’ve prepared a joint “exhibition” of Paul Celan’s poem and Shmuel ben Yitzchak’s graphic in the Power Point (I know I know) shows below. If you read German try that one first, and if not, go directly to the English version that features John Felstiner’s English translation.
Celan-ben Yitzchak Exhibition (in German)

Celan-ben Yitzchak Exhibition (in English)

NOTE: Both the German text of Celan’s poem and John Felstiner’s translation are taken from Michael Hofmann, ed., Twentieth-Century German Poetry: An Anthology (NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005).


~ by matt on 25 May 2007.

2 Responses to “Adaptation: Poem to Graphic”

  1. wonderful..

  2. what exactly? Thanks.

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Natalie E. Illum...

is a poet, performer and disability activist. Bring her stumbling to your city.

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