Manon Uphoff gives Joost Zwagerman Lecture about the mobility of our perception

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Manon Uphoff gives Joost Zwagerman Lecture about the mobility of our perception

Manon Uphoff.Image ANP

The fourth edition of the lecture on the relationship between word and image, and between literature and art, will be delivered in Theater De Vest in Alkmaar, Zwagerman’s birthplace. Uphoff is the first female and the first Dutch speaker, after the American art historian Simon Schama, the British writer Julian Barnes and the American biographer Benjamin Moser.

Uphoff’s topic, the mobility of observation, does not stem from the covid time when everyone had less room to move because of the lockdowns, she assures. But whoever wants to, will automatically be able to have associations with this. ‘We are still in the middle of the corona time, so more time is needed to say something meaningful about it. I find the relationship between who we are and how we move in time and space devilishly interesting, it has kept me busy in my work for years.’

Uphoff, who last year received the Charlotte Köhler Prize for her oeuvre, came up with the idea after a period of ‘extreme immobility’, when she was felled by a severe hernia and ‘lay on the carpet’ in her living room for months. Unable to walk or move, unable to make things, waiting for surgery. It had a profound effect on her mood and fueled her fear.

‘In my experience I had become completely meaningless. At first this instilled great fear. But that turned around, it actually brought insight.’ Her perception was not less, but better. She looked attentively at the dancing summer light that fell on her wall and interior, through the foliage of the trees around her house. ‘I realized that the environment I can’t go to is moving towards me. That has changed my views on perception and the place we occupy in the world.’

Uphoff will talk about how perception is never static but mobile, with examples of how other writers, directors and visual artists expressed this in their work. In this way she also implicitly links up with the work of Zwagerman, who wrote a lot about color and light and ‘especially in his poetry made the mutability of observing and remembering the theme’, she says.

In addition to Uphoff, writer Ronald Giphart will give an introductory speech in which he shares memories of his writer friendship with Zwagerman. Frédérique Spigt performs the song Now that you’re gone that Zwagerman wrote for her in 2006. The Joost Zwagerman Essay Prize will also be awarded to a young writer for the fourth time. Previous winners were Anouk Kootstra, Jolanda van Benthem, and Jilt Jorritsma. The Essay Prize is organized by the Van Bijlenvelt Foundation and the Society of Dutch Literature, with a jury chaired by Volkskrantcolumnist Aleid Truijens.

Manon Uphoff gives Joost Zwagerman Lecture about the mobility of our perception
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