Group show. The exhibition explores the vast and mercurial concept of 'translation', considered metaphorically as an unsteady bridge and haphazard crossing between different cultural, social, and artistic languages. Questioning the existence of a unique and fixed idiom, it is also an investigation into the complex and irregular ways through which diverse individuals and cultures communicate and understand each other, with a particular attention to the urban context where we live and where the unfamiliar, the displaced, the migrant, and the nomad are experienced on a daily basis.
Maria Chevska, JosÃ© DÃ¡vila, Bethan Huws, Shigeaki Iwai, Johannes Maier, Harold Offeh, Susan Pui San Lok, Aaron Williamson
"The fact is that the stupendous reality, which is language, will not be understood at its root if one doesn't begin by noticing that speech is composed above all of silences. A person incapable of quieting many things would not be capable of thinking. And each language is a different equation of statements and silences. All people silence some things in order to be able to say others. Otherwise, everything would be unsayable. From this we deduce the enormous difficulty of translation: in it one glimpses a possibly marvelous aspect of the enterprise of translating: the revelation of the mutual secrets that people and epochs keep to themselves and which contribute so much to their separation and hostility."
(JosÃ© Ortega y Gasset, from ed. L. Venuti, The Translation Studies Reader, Routledge 2000, transl. by Elizabeth Gamble Miller)
The Translator's Notes explores the vast and mercurial concept of "translation", considered metaphorically as an unsteady bridge and haphazard crossing between different cultural, social, and artistic languages. Questioning the existence of a unique and fixed idiom, it is also an investigation into the complex and irregular ways through which diverse individuals and cultures communicate and understand each other, with a particular attention to the urban context where we live and where the unfamiliar, the displaced, the migrant, and the nomad are experienced on a daily basis.
A number of artists from Britain and abroad have been invited to respond to the above quote from the Spanish intellectual JosÃ© Ortega y Gasset, and either present existing works or produce new pieces, translating their own texts on the blank page of the gallery walls.
The "onomatopoeic" series of paintings by Maria Chevska develops in the three-dimensional context of an installation: a different language for expressing transient emotions and thoughts is explored beyond the frame of a canvas. Bethan Huws' "vitrines" comment on the silence left by publicly accepted and seemingly exhaustive statements, including our common claim for "freedom of speech". The linguistic and conceptual relationship between Welsh and English is also the subject of another of her "vitrines", which refers to the two languages' historical autonomy and reciprocal controversial assimilation. Through the camera's random gaze, in "Vali and Ameneh" Johannes Maier witnesses a hybrid domestic conversation in Farsi and English on London's everyday occurrences, identifying the poetic nature of its characters' silences and expressions. Shigeaki Iwai is presenting, for the first time in London, his investigation into the intertwining of Western and Eastern languages and dialects throughout the Far East urban babels. His work is concerned with our deep need to communicate and voice our stories, both locally and globally, and with the consequent opportunities and/or failures that geographical and cultural translations imply.
Together with Shigeaki Iwai, JosÃ© DÃ¡vila, Harold Offeh, Susan Pui San Lok, and Aaron Williamson are producing new works. JosÃ© DÃ¡vila will intervene on the walls of the gallery courtyard, through a camouflage that highlights their ambivalent presence at the interface between indoor and outdoor social spaces. In his multi-screen video installation Harold Offeh will examine notions of representation, stereotyping and fixed identity as conveyed by TV and other mass media. Susan Pui San Lok' s installation with sound and video will refer to fragmented personal and cultural spaces and memories through interruptions and overlaps, evoking the unpredictable and contradictory movements of migrant subjects. Finally, Aaron Williamson will work on two performances based on a contemporary interpretation of the Latin "translatio": once transfer of sacred objects and relics from one church to another, it shifts now into a mundane journey in the ever-changing landscape of the East End of London, with the camera restlessly seeking for the moving subject.
The exhibition is accompanied by a programme of talks and workshops, which aims to enhance discussions and broaden up the issues raised by the exhibition.
Sunday 30th March, 3pm: Andrew Renton (writer and curator, lecturer at Slade School of Fine Art and Goldsmiths College, columnist for Evening Standard newspaper)
Saturday 5th April, 3pm: Catherine Stenzl (conference interpreter) and Robin Trew (senior lecturer in Chinese at the University of Westminster)
Sunday 13th April, 3pm: Andrea Phillips (writer, lecturer at Goldsmiths College and Central St Martins Visual Arts, current research based at Slade School of Fine Art) - this talk is BSL interpreted -
The exhibition is generously supported by Arts Council England, The Foyle Foundation, the Goethe-Institut Inter Nationes, The Japan Foundation, the Mexican Embassy, and Asahi Beer.
Exhibition Dates: 26th March - 20th April 2003
Exhibition Hours: Wed - Sun from 11am to 5pm
Private View: 23rd March 2003, from 3 to 6pm
Cafe Gallery Projects
The gallery, by the Lake, Southwark Park, Bermondsey, London SE16 2UA