Discussion and Film
The desert – a paradoxical place, in which desires and borderline experiences articulate themselves, in which the actual and the imagined, dreams and reality appear to condense and evaporate. To many, it symbolizes the exotic, a living Utopia of freedom from space and time, or a hyper-real space of abdication and dissolution.
Raúl Zurita and Abdelwahab Meddeb write and talk about the fascination of the desert as a focal point of a way of thinking and of a poetry dedicated to disappearance. Later, Gus van Sant’s Film Gerry takes up these lines of thought in a rich cinematic experience.
Raúl Zurita + Abdelwahab Meddeb in discussion
Moderation: Michaela Ott
Raúl Zurita, winner of the Pablo Neruda Prize and the Chilean Premio Nacional de Literatura, counts among the leading proponents of contemporary Latin American literature. A co-founder of the Colectivo de Acciones de Arte, he is especially well-known for his giant ‘inscripción' of the verse "ni pena ni miedo" (neither suffering nor fear) in the Atacama Desert – an inscription that can only be read from the air. He subscribes to a concept of literature that transcends borders, whose focal point is often the historic break in art and life brought about by the Pinochet dictatorship.
Abdelwahab Meddeb, who was born in 1946 in Tunis, comes from a family of theologians and scriptural scholars at Zituna University. He lives in Paris, where he works as a poet, essayist and high-school teacher. He is one of the most well-known French-Arab writers. Meddeb is publisher of the intercultural periodical "dedale" and also works on the "France Culture" radio show "Cultures d'islam".
Michaela Ott is professor of aesthetic theories at HFBK Hamburg, a philosopher, a filmologist and a translator. The main focus of her work at the university is on philosophical aesthetics, film theory and the relationships between aesthetics and politics, ethics and gender theory.