A Seventh Man – Programme Notes

“ It can happen that a book, unlike its authors, grows younger as the years pass. ”

John Berger
(Introduction to the 2010 edition of A Seventh Man)

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“ A Seventh Man was built on the newly rediscovered tradition of montage. It is neither an argument nor a story, but a hybrid of juxtapositions. Individual photographs like frames in a film. Montage from ‘monter’: to build or assemble. Meaning is derived from their collective shape or arrangement.

“ We encounter a collage of sources. Authorship is multiple. Through a literal scissors-and-glue method, the book dismantles and reassembles our compartments of cognition. The emphasis is on the commonality of the experience.

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“ A Seventh Man was conceived to be at once epic and intimate, a montage of perspectives. A split symbolized in the powerful image of the torn portrait. Absence made full. A hero setting off on a journey or a stranger coming to town. The second, we notice, is simply the first seen in reverse.

“ The dream / nightmare is the personal ordeal of migration, stretched between the twin poles of hope and fear.

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“ Through a series of interruptive shocks, Berger and Mohr try to wake the reader from the dream.

“ This is not a migrant story with a happy ending. ”

Joshua Sperling
(Extracts from A Writer of Our Time: The Life and Work of John Berger)

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Images: Julian Hughes