Tacita Dean

Canterbury England 1965, lives and works in Berlin

Michael Hamburger
2007
16mm colour anamorphic film, optical sound ed. 3/4
28 minutes
2009.TD.06

Commissioned to make a work in relation to the writer, W. G. Sebald, Tacita Dean took as her subject the Berlin born British poet and translator Michael Hamburger whom Sebald meets in a chapter of his book, The Rings of Saturn.

Her 28 minute film, Michael Hamburger concentrates on Hamburger’s love of apples, and on the orchard he grew himself in his Suffolk garden, mostly from the pips of apples he either found or had been given.

The rambling house and its encroaching garden, the sunlight, the rattling wind and then the appearance of a rainbow all act as metaphor to the man as poet.

“Although Hamburger is said to have despaired of reviews of his poetry which declared that he was ‘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 his apple trees, 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.” – Jeremy Millar in 'Waterlog', Castle Museum, Norwich.