Melancholia – a Sebald variation


Start Date: September 21, 2017

End Date: December 10, 2017

From 20 September 2017

Inigo Rooms, King’s College London, Somerset House East Wing,
Strand, London, WC2R 2LS

Melancholia — a Sebald variation, curated by John-Paul Stonard and Lara Feigel, takes the writings of WG Sebald (1944-2001) as a starting point for an exploration of melancholia in European art and culture. In 1997, Sebald gave a series of lectures in Zürich, later published in English as On the Natural History of Destruction. He spoke in melancholy tones of the devastation of Germany by Allied bombing during the Second World War, and the repression of memories of the destruction in postwar life, particularly in German literature.

This Inigo Rooms exhibition traces a Sebaldian path from the ruins of 1945 to the present day. It takes its cue both from Albrecht Dürer’s famous image Melencolia I (1514), on loan from the British Museum, and from the ‘zero hour’ after the Second World War when melancholy found its physical form in the rubble scattered throughout its cities, and human form in the refugees who wandered through them.

Alongside Dürer’s Melencolia I, this exhibition will display works from a wide range of international artists, including Dexter Dalwood, Tacita Dean, Susan Hiller, Tess Jaray, Anselm Kiefer, George Shaw, Guido van der Werve, and Jeremy Wood, as well as archival materials and a film of WG Sebald in discussion with Susan Sontag.




Melancholia – a Sebald variation is exhibited in collaboration with the Centre for Contemporary Culture in Barcelona (CCCB) who presented some of these works in their 2015 exhibition Sebald Variations, curated by Jorge Carrión and Pablo Helguera. The exhibition is presented by Cultural Programming and the Department of English and the Centre for Modern Literature and Culture at King’s College London and supported by the European Research Council. More information is available on the King’s website.