Walser and the Visual Arts

By The Editors

Post your thoughts on Walser or The Assistant below. Comments are moderated, and will appear after a very short delay, so avoid posting twice if you notice that your post doesn't appear immediately.

Comment here on Tom Whalen's "Composition for Robert Walser" as well as Sam Jones's interviews with Tom and James Tweedie on why Walser appeals to visual artists so strongly.



It appears to me that Walser lived at the edge between life and death, the sensory threshold beyond which life became inscrutable and Walser ceased to be anyone.

Victoria Alexander wrote that “Art is born in between order and chaos where novel patterns are related to their predecessors, emerging from while transforming convention”


This intersectoon is where Walser not only created, but lived. He was Kafka’s Indian in “The Wish to be a Red Indian.”


Wittgenstein wrote “Feeling the world as a limited whole, it is this that is mystical.” It is here that Walser takes us, out into this new realm he pushes the edge as we are led by a man-child, yet all the while surrounded by the familiar, feeling we’re in our own back yard.
COMMENT: I’d like to add another “film” to Sam’s list which presents itself rather as a “Visual Book”: “Er, der Hut, sitzt auf ihm, dem Kopf”. Seven love stories by Robert Walser are visually played by two actors in silent movie-style appearances, while simultaneously Bruno Ganz reads the full text in German on the soundtrack.


The experimental “Visual Book” (52 min.) by Swiss filmmaker Walo Deuber was first presented successfully at the International Walser Conference “Ferne Naehe"at the University of Zurich in December 2006 and has been aired since by Swiss National Television. Check out the short trailer at: www.walser-sehbuch.ch


There are a German version read by Bruno Ganz and a French version, read by Roger Jendly. Both are available on DVD. Due to a lack of funding and proper distribution there is no English version made yet, although it would be fairly easy to do it under the conditions that the necessary translations would be available and some distributor’s engagement could be found.


The author of the “Visual Book” will present it in February 2009 in New York at “Deutsches Haus” of the NYU (Feb. 24) and at the Swiss Consulate in Boston (Feb. 27):


“Visualizing the Obvious in Robert Walser’s Prose”
Film Screening and Discussion.
The film, “Er, der Hut, sitzt auf ihm, dem Kopf ” (2006, 52 min., in German) presents seven love stories by Walser as a “Visual Book”, with the voice of Bruno Ganz.
Introduction and Q&A with the director, Walo Deuber (German Professor and filmmaker, Zürich)
In German & English
DATE: 01/05/2009 3:37:51 AM

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