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About Herta MüllerABOUT THE WORK Nobel laureate Herta Müller crystalizes her passion for the unconventional arrangement of words in the form of beautiful, poetic collages. Carefully selected words are arranged into visual poems that are light and humorous yet heavy and thought provoking at the same time – and always accompanied by an illustration. The compositions reveal a side of Müller previously unknown
BACKGROUND INFORMATIONABOUT THE WORK
Nobel laureate Herta Müller crystalizes her passion for the unconventional arrangement of words in the form of beautiful, poetic collages. Carefully selected words are arranged into visual poems that are light and humorous yet heavy and thought provoking at the same time – and always accompanied by an illustration. The compositions reveal a side of Müller previously unknown to the public. In her novels, the writer from the Romanian part of the Banat region addresses life under a dictatorship, repression, alienation, and fear. In her collages, by contrast, she allows herself to be guided by the words at hand, giving in to chance. The results are a constant surprise.
Müller’s unique way with words combines with the typography, colours and patterns of the paper. The expressions are given their own tone, their own unique resonance, through the smallest variations in font. The compositions can be enjoyed even without reading them. Herta Müller creates a new space for interpretation, arousing in us an appreciation for words and their individual sounds. The writer herself compares her poetic images to the pamphlets of the past. “Where I grew up, in Romania, under a dictatorship, it was impossible to make pamphlets using typewriters. They had to be registered with the police. We took anything we could find and simply glued it together”, Müller explained to German magazine Der Spiegel in 2012.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Herta Müller and her poignant, powerful works of prose belong amongst the greats of international literature. In addition to the Nobel Prize for Literature, which she was awarded in 2009, the writer’s other awards include the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (1998), the Berlin Literature Prize (2005), and the Grand Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2010). In 2010, Munich’s Literaturhaus dedicated an exhibition to Müller: Der Kalte Schmuck des Lebens (The Cold Jewellry of Life), as conceived by Ernest Wichner.
Whether she extracts the words from newspapers or magazines, what matters to Herta Müller is form, colour and, above all, the word itself. She carries her cutting board around with her everywhere, a habit that enabled her to catalogue and file hundreds of thousands of words during the 1990’s. For each individual poetic puzzle, she allows herself an area no larger than a postcard, keeping the space for her personal linguistic discoveries quite compact.
It would be a fallacy, however, to view this size limitation as restrictive. In fact, it is quite the opposite. When Müller describes the shuffling and re-arranging of the words, and how their meanings consequently change, an almost childlike happiness emerges. Her construction of the visual poems is “sensual and unpredictable”, Müller explains. “I bring completely normal words together. And then, out of the blue, they sparkle!”
1953 Born in Nițchidorf, Romania 1973-1976 Studied German and Romanian Philology at West University of Timișoara, Romania 1976-1979 Worked as a translator and teacher. Fired in 1979 for refusing to cooperate with the Securitate, the Romanian secret police. 1987 Emigrated to Germany 1995 Became a member of the German Academy for Language and Literature, Darmstadt, Germany 1998 Brothers Grimm Guest Lecturer at the University of Kassel, Germany 2001 Poetics Docent, Tübingen, Germany 2005 Heiner Müller Guest Lecturer at Free Universtiy of Berlin, Germany 2007-2008 Residence at the Internationales Künstlerhaus Villa Concordia in Bamberg, Germany 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature
2010 Herta Müller. Der kalte Schmuck des Lebens, Literaturhaus München, Munich, Germany
2013 Wortkünstler/Bildkünstler, Internationale Tage, Ingelheim am Rhein, Germany Wortkünstler/Bildkünstler, Museum Behnhaus, Drägerhaus, Lübeck, Deutschland