Great Expectations 

A video and photographic portrait of the Wisbech & Fenland Museum | UK

Sabine Bürger: The Wisbech & Fenland Museum 2014, photographic series. From top to bottom: The Main Display | The Museum's Library | Charles Dickens' Manuscript for Great Expectations

ink jet prints, each 34.68 x 52.02 cm

Manuscript Great Expectations

Great Expectations 2013 | video, 68:08 min

This video clip shows an 11:01 min excerpt from Great Expectations

The video Great Expectations by the German artist Sabine Bürger is a portrait of the Wisbech & Fenland Museum/UK. It revolves around two pivotal figures: Charles Dickens, whose manuscript for Great Expectations the museum owns, and Thomas Clarkson, a key figure in abolishing the slave trade within the British Empire, who was born in Wisbech. The video intersperses an interview with the museum’s curator David Wright with striking footage of the museum’s exhibits. Viewers gain an insight into less familiar parts of the building such as the extensive library and the normally off-limits basement storage area with its unseen treasures. The highlight of the video is perhaps the sequence of atmospheric close-ups of Dickens’ manuscript, accompanied by readings of passages from the novel.

In addition to the video, the project comprises a photographic installation, juxtaposing reproductions of Wisbech and its surroundings from wax negatives from around 1850, taken by Samuel Smith, a pioneering photographer and founding member of the museum, with colour close-ups of the museum’s exhibits in situ by Sabine Bürger, as well as a lecture on Charles Dickens and Victorian Visual Culture by Prof. Dr. Patricia Plummer, Chair of Postcolonial Studies, Duisburg-Essen University.   

Music: Celer & Machinefabriek’s Brussels concert, courtesy of Will Long and Rutger Zuydervelt | Cathnor from the album Duos for Doris by Keith Rowe & John Tilbury, courtesy of Erstwhile Records | and music from the album Weerzien by Anne Chris Bakker, courtesy of Anne Chris Bakker

Samuel S Smith, Wisbech: Museum Square c. 1853 | Reproduction: 34.68 x 52.02 cm

Great Expectations, photographic installation | b&w photographs: Samuel S. Smith, Wisbech, around 1850  | color photographs: Sabine Bürger, Display and Library Wisbech & Fenland Museum (#5,22,26,37,47,57,61) 2014

ink jet prints, each 34.68 x 52.02 cm



A project in cooperation with the Wisbech & Fenland Museum | UK

Past events:

Premiered in November 2013 at The Luxe Cinema, Wisbech 

Video screening and display in the Art Library, in July 2014, at Duisburg Essen University. Organised by Prof. Dr. Patricia Plummer, Chair of Postcolonial Studies, to accompany the lecture The Victorian Age

Video and photographic installation Great Expectation 22 – 26 July 2014 in Arles/Southern France At a pop-up space during the 2014 edition of the Rencontres d‘Arles International Photo Festival, organised by the club des jumelages de la ville d‘Arles/The Wisbech-Arles Twinning Club. An exhibition co-curated by Sabine Bürger and David Wright, Curator of the Wisbech Museum

Making a Difference: Thomas Clarkson – Abolitionist | A talk by Sabine Bürger, organised by Prof. Dr. Patricia Plummer, Chair of Postcolonial Studies, Duisburg-Essen University | Public talk: Thursday, 7 January 2016, 2 pm at Duisburg-Essen University (Main Library) Further info >>>

Behind the Scenes at the Museum: The Wisbech & Fenland Museum | Friday, 18 November 2016 | A talk by Sabine Bürger, organised by Prof. Dr. Patricia Plummer, Chair of Postcolonial Studies, Duisburg-Essen University. The Artist Talk is part of the seminar "Colonialism's Heritage in Museums and Archives," which has been awarded funding within UDE's 2016 Teaching Diversity scheme. Further info >>>

Great Expectations at CHAT 2017: Heritage, Memory, Art and Agency | a conference organised by the University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture (AHM) | 3-5 November 2017 | video screening on Saturday, 4th November, at 5 pm, at Belle van Zullen Hall, the University Library.

Great Expectations: Reflections on the Wisbech & Fenland Museum/UK | Talk by New Media Artist Sabine Bürger (Essen) | Friday, 4 May 2018, 10 am–12 noon | Venue: Duisburg-Essen University, R12 R06 A69, Universitätsstr. 9-11, 45131 Essen/Germany. Further info >>>

Great Expectations (Talk) | 1-3 June 2018: Art, Materiality and Representation | a conference at the British Museum and SOAS University of London | Great Expectations is being presented on Sat, 2 June, at 11 am (panel 105) | Venue: SOAS Senate House, S208. Further info >>>

© Sabine Bürger 2015