Onion Discussion: Press Releases: Translation and Trace

Hello Onion People,

The season has turned and we have moved from winter to spring – a kind of translation you could say!


product_1203.jpg (250×250)


The next (spring) Onion session called Press Releases, is one where we will discuss the written word and how that often frames the work of art as the initial encounter (in press releases), as a contemporaneous mirroring object (in artist statements or interpretative texts during the exhibition, or post-rationalisation of the work (in documentation, catalogues, essays, etc).


These writings are not the work but can be viewed as a kind of translation of the work into words. We have Brigit Connolly as our special guest next Weds who is a translator and an artist, and doing her PhD on translation and art. Brigit will help us think through the nature of translation, its purpose, its operation, and then we can discuss how work gets translated and interpreted. Brigit has sent some pre-reading attached and intros below. There is quite a lot to get through so I am emailing the reading to you early this week.


However, the second aspect of writing in and around the work of art is that the writing itself can form the artistic enquiry. Words are after all another medium/material and writing is experience/process in its own right. If you have time to get Alexander Duttman’s lecture out from the library (on DVD) which he gave on 1 March 2010 on ‘The Contemporary’, he mentions the necessity to “follow the trace of writing”. As a student of Derrida himself, he recalls Derrida saying that “One writes only at the moment when one gives the contemporary the slip”.


As some of you may be looking towards your dissertation, this next Onion on the dual operation of Translation and ‘giving the contemporary the slip’ might be useful.


Brigit’s recommendations are below and attached. And I leave you with a little snippet of Derrida explaining why he is scared of writing.



On a housekeeping note, I thought it would be a nice idea to have a proper meal and do a Korean BBQ. So the discussion will be held upstairs in the common area and we will get out the hotplate. Please bring something that you could BBQ and share, as well as any salads etc. It doesn’t have to be Korean exclusively of course, anything for the barbie will do. But I will make some rice, bring some kimchi, and we can eat and chat in the Korean spirit of generosity, hospitality and communality.


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Looking forward to see you at our second last Onion!






———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Brigit Connolly <brigit.connolly@network.rca.ac.uk>
Date: 25 March 2011 15:40
Subject: Re: translation discussion.
To: Jack Tan <jack.tan@network.rca.ac.uk

Hi J 

I’ve chosen three texts:


– Pierre Menard Author of the Quijote by Jorge Luis Borges
This well known text is probably one of the most intelligent and also most easily accessible texts on translation.
It is also Borges’ first short story.


– A short extract about the poet Alexander Pope,
Pope was famous for producing one of the most successful translations of Homer’s Iliad into English
This extract poses the traditional discussions within translation concerning fidelity and freedom, authenticity and the lack of it.


– A list of different languages’ definitions of “translation”. 
I’ve included this, because in any discussion of translation it is also useful to take on board the fact that translation itself is an unstable concept. Different cultures emphasise and value different aspects of it, so it is in this respect culturally bound and open to interpretation. It also gives the etymology of the term and compares the process of translation with that of interpretation, and I think this is a useful to distinction to draw in any discussion of translation and also to its application to writing press releases.


I’ll bring some more shorter quotes on the day, so we can feed these into the conversation.


I’ve also attached Benjamin’s The Task of the Translator, for any keen people who have to time or the inclination to read it.


It’s a pivotal text and its really useful to be acquainted with it.


Food would be great, so we can ruminate.


B xx 

Brigit Connolly
Mobile: 0781 787 5492 


Andrew Chesterman.docx
Data from different language families.docx

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