Since the late 1980s, a rich, pictorial oeuvre comprised of drawings, collages, and painting has accompanied the writer and poet Adonis’ written works. Through this conjunction of image and written word, the writer not only communicates and interprets his own verse using a pictorial vocabulary, but also the verse of treasured poets – from antiquity to recent times. It is as if he were emphasizing and interpreting the character and essence of the poetry and texts. This is a concern that drives him as a poet and an author. Stefan Weidner, who has translated Adonis’ works into German, has noted in an afterword to one of his volumes of poetry that Adonis is always striving to reach “new levels of perception through language.”1
Alongside Adonis’ poems and essays, his imagery can be considered an independent artistic work. Nonetheless, the interweaving of word and image is also preserved in the works’ materiality: Adonis works primarily on paper, often with watercolor or ink. He makes collages, bringing textiles and found objects from daily life onto the picture.
He rarely, if ever, gives the works titles. Essentially, the texts already have titles from the moment of their original creation and are then subjected to a new, pictorial experience.
The works selected for this exhibition are for the most part works built around poems from Adonis’ most important publication,
In addition to Adonis’ own poetry, there is a homage to another great practitioner of his craft, which is ultimately also an allusion to ancient and historical poetry and places. Ten large banners display the ‘Mu’allaqat’ (The Suspended Poems), the verses that were hung in the Kaaba in Mecca and thus testaments to a rich poetic tradition that still receives too little recognition in the western European tradition.
With his image compositions, Adonis shows himself to be an advocate as well as an artist – a champion and proponent of a literary tradition yet to be discovered.
Dorothea Schöne, curator of the exhibition
1 Stefan Weidner, epilogue, in: Adonis. Verwandlungen eines Liebenden. Gedichte 1958–1971, Frankfurt am Main 2014,
Exhibition: 20 – 26 June 2023
in the Galerie St. Laurent and
in the Alter Bahnhof, Leukerbad
During the festival: 10 – 18
Before and after the festival: 13 – 17
The pictures are a selection from the exhibition shown in Leukerbad. A list of all the works presented is available in the exhibition rooms.
Down from the mountains and into the valley. We will look past the immediate surroundings of Leukerbad and make space for writers from the entire canton of Valais. In collaboration with MEEL, we will explore what opportunities are open to writers in Valais and what challenges they face in their work. Bilingualism, geographic particulars, proximity to the French and German markets—what is really on the minds of local writers?
Four writers will meet to discuss these topics at a table ronde—Rolf Hermann, Jérôme Meizoz, Abigail Seran and Céline Zufferey. In order to represent Valais adequately, this exchange will be held in French and German, and it will show that Valais has much more to offer than wine and apricots. Indeed, it has a lively and diverse literary scene which will be broadly represented in the Leukerbad International Literary Festival for the first time this year with A Look into the Valley.
Translators are not only especially attentive readers, they’re also vital intermediaries between languages and cultures. In cooperation with the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin (LCB) and with the support of the cultural foundation Pro Helvetia, the Centre de Traduction Littéraire Lausanne (CTL) and Palais Valais, translators of German-language literature have been invited to Leukerbad again this year.
At the center of these two-day workshops there is always a recent work by a Swiss author – this year it is the novel
The participants will present the results of the workshop and discuss their work as cultural border crossers at the Leukerbad Literary Festival.
The list of authors who have participated in previous translation colloquia include Peter Weber, Michel Mettler, Lukas Bärfuss, Katharina Faber, Rolf Lappert, Melinda Nadj Abonji, Christoph Simon, Arno Camenisch, Jonas Lüscher, Peter Stamm, Monique Schwitter, Urs Mannhart, Nora Gomringer, Gianna Molinari, and Ariane Koch.
A look into the translation workshop:
Saturday, 24 June 2023, 10
28th Leukerbad International Literary Festival: