Gerhard Kofler (*1949 in Bozen/Bolzano, † 2005 in Vienna) is one of the most important lyricists from South Tyrol – not in the least because the majority of his poetry work was authored in two languages.
In the interplay between the Italian and German versions pertaining to his work, novel interpretations regarding the sonic and semantic aspects emerge, which unearth the value of language and cultural contact. Kofler’s affection for language opens up new areas of exploration as seen in his Spanish, English and dialectical poems. The same applies for his translations of texts from authors such as H.C. Artmann, Ernst Jandl, Friederike Mayröcker, and Umberto Saba, whose work he was especially fond of.
Gerhard Kofler grew up in Brixen/Bressanone in a multilingual surrounding. High German came from his mother, the Viennese dialect from his Grandmother, whereas the dialect of his school friends was intertwined with the Italian of his Neapolitan neighbours. In his youth, Kofler took an interest to international literature and foreign languages. This lead him to pursue German and Romance studies first in Innsbruck then in Salzburg, and finally settling in Vienna in 1978. Kofler had a profound influence on the literary scene of his time, through his roles as member and longtime general secretary of the Grazer Autorinnen Autorenversammlung (based in Vienna), as member of the Association of Authors, the South Tyrolean Authors Association, as correspondent for ORF and RAI (the Austrian and Italian public service broadcasting stations respectively), but perhaps most of all through his role as a literary critic.
Much too soon, Gerhard Kofler died in the autumn of 2005 in Vienna. He left behind a comprehensive lyrical oeuvre, which delivers a distinct poetic voice through clear linguistic imagery. Kofler touches on the fundamental questions of human existence through his depictions of ordinary scenes from his childhood and everyday life, but also his passion for literature, music, football and Greece. Standing side by side, his bilingual texts only appear to be separated from one other – however, in reality they open up a dialogue and refer to linguistic intersections, which become a place of interconnectedness, rather than separation. They stand for his life-long pursuit to overcome linguistic barriers, and to utilise the differences between the languages to expand his own poetic space.
It is therefore no coincidence that ZeLT, the European Centre for Literature and Translation, whose focus is directed towards the exchange of literatures and languages, is dedicating its first special exhibition to the “World Citizen of Poetry” (Gerhard Jaschke) and his multilingual literary practice.
The multilingual aspect of Gerhard Kofler’s poetry is conveyed through an interactive installation at the new Brixen Public Library, with different forms of interpretations and readings of his work. Gerhard Kofler’s prolific legacy is presented through around 80 poetry installations, audio and visual stations, as well as displays with documentation from his estate. The installation and displays are divided in thematic wholes and can be seen throughout the entire library building. The juxtaposition of the exhibition with the building’s architecture and interior represents an integral part of the conversation, which draws from Gerhard Kofler’s poetry and intends to spark a dialogue on the topics of writing, reading and the translation of poetry. The exhibition is organised in cooperation with the Brenner Archive Research Institute at the University of Innsbruck and is based on documentation from Gerhard Kofler’s estate, which the Province of South Tyrol acquired in 2014 and entrusted to the Brenner Archive, in close cooperation with the author’s widow, Hannelore Kofler-Brugnolo.
Curated by: Erika Wimmer Mazohl, Alma Vallazza and Maria Piok
Exhibition design: Peter Karlhuber
Exhibition opening: Saturday, 28th January 2023, at 11:00 am.
The exhibition is open daily (except Sundays) during library opening hours (8:30 am – 6:30 pm) until the 31st March 2023.
The exhibition program is complemented with a series of events. Gerhard Kofler’s legacy, which is rooted in his cross-border multilingual poetics, will be re-examined and brought into connection with contemporary tendencies in literature and made accessible to a broader public.
Saturday, 28th January 2023, 11:00 am
Brixen Public Library
Speakers: Armin Gatterer, Monika Leitner, Erika Wimmer Mazohl, Hannelore Kofler-Brugnolo
Special guest: Benno Simma
With: Benno Simma, Helga Plankensteiner, Michael Lösch and others
Saturday, 11th February 2023, 6:00 pm
Brixen Public Library
PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS AND READINGS
On the occasion of Gerhard Kofler’s 74th birthday
With: Furio Brugnolo, Sabine Gruber, Theresia Prammer, Kurt Neumann and Hans Heiss
Moderation: Maria Piok
Tuesday, 21st March 2023, 8:30 pm
Authors read their own poems and poems by Gerhard Kofler, in different languages and dialects
With: C.W. Bauer, Arno Dejaco, Federico Italiano, Sepp Mall, Gentiana Minga, Greta Maria Pichler, Barbara Pumhösel, Nadia Rungger, Raoul Schrott, Matthias Vieider, Erika Wimmer Mazohl and Jörg Zemmler
Wednesday, 22nd March 2023, 7:00 pm
Brixen Public Library
WRITING, TRANSLATING, PUBLISHING
With: Raoul Schrott, Federico Italiano and Andreina Giulia Disanto
Moderation: Alma Vallazza
–Bilingual poetry workshops for schools with C.W. Bauer and Barbara Pumhösel (20.03.2023 – 24.03.2023)
–Brixen literary city walks – in the footsteps of poet Gerhard Kofler
More information on the individual events to follow shortly.