The Art of Translation: My Visit to Guggenheim Museum

Recently I went to the Deutsche-Guggenheim Museum in Berlin (yes, they also have a subsidiary there) to see an exhibition that inspired the name to this blog and bore the title ‘Found in Translation’.

My favourite piece is the video installation which shows the video used to teach English language to Latino children in the U.S. By using words and scenes, which are culturally sanctioned, language is a medium and a means to create a new reality in the mind of a child. Often sterile, advertisement like, those pictures are nothing less that colonizing the minds by illusions of idyllic life that is somehow linked just to the faculty of English language. Wow!!! And that is the feeling you get going through the installations. Strongly recommend to see the summary of this event here!

The exhibition was devoted to the theme of translation in language and in our lives as essential sense-making, as the process through which our identities are shaped but yet the process which often remains second-hand, in the shadow and under-rated. The curator of the exhibition, Nat Trotman, to my unspoken joy, has written the following:

“In today’s globalized world, with political, economic, and social issues intertwined across national boundaries, the need to communicate across cultural and historical divides has become unavoidable. Translation, both linguistically and figuratively, has emerged as a fundamental tool for making sense of reality. Unlike ever before, we must consider what is lost or gained in translation and what effects these endless transformations have on the world around us.

In his groundbreaking text The Location of Culture (1994), cultural theorist Homi Bhabha describes translation as “the performative nature of cultural communication.” Translation, he claims, activates both the culture being translated from as well as that being translated to. It creates a discursive field in which the terms of identity—class, race, religion, sexuality—are negotiated and new meanings are generated. For Bhabha, the apparently straightforward task of converting a text from one language to another becomes a microcosm for the interaction between cultures, with all the complexities that dialogue entails. This process is laden with power relations, especially through the legacy of colonialism; it is also, however, a site of new aesthetic possibilities.”

How many interesting thoughts are here, what a great feeling to find that the theme of translation, power, colonialism, cultural hegemony now find themselves manifested in conceptual art!!! I strongly recommend to check it out!

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