COMMA is a dynamic series of commissions enabling artists to experiment and expand their practice in relation to the particular nature of Bloomberg SPACE.
EXHIBITIONS RUN 12 October – 5 November
OPENING HOURS Mon - Sat, 11am - 6pm Thu 3 November till 9pm
Bloomberg SPACE 50 Finsbury Square London EC2A 1HD +44 20 7330 7959 firstname.lastname@example.org www.bloombergspace.com
The Arts Catalyst presents
Rachel Mayeri Primate Cinema: Apes as Family
AND Festival, Liverpool: 29 September – 2 October 2011 The Arts Catalyst, London: 19 October – 13 November 2011 Nottingham Contemporary (screening): 7 December 2011 www.artscatalyst.org | Features 01 |
Mark Prince analyses the language of objects
Susan Hiller The Last Silent Movie 2007-08
OCT 11 | ART MONTHLY | 350
It is now relatively quick and affordable to ship objects far and wide. The exhibition industry depends on it. Physical transplantation is almost as fluent as data transmission, a fluency to which we are so habituated that it takes some imagination to appreciate the strangeness of having an object in the room that was on the other side of the world until a day or two ago. The cultural transformation of a found object into a constituent of an artwork is a parallel process to which we are equally inured. It introduces a reference that is also a trace – an access onto a historical and geographical narrative – while, at the same time, masking the object’s past by generalising it as a symbol of itself. Separated from function and history, it becomes a representation of the role it once had. This process of artifice derived from contingency might be described as a smuggling of content from one realm to another, requiring concealment, subterfuge, the donning of disguises.
These are metaphors familiar as descriptions of linguistic translation. The British/German poet/ translator Michael Hofmann writes of the necessity of being able to ‘slip into costume’. In ‘The Task of the Translator’, 1923, Walter Benjamin also offers us translation through metaphors of clothing and disguise: ‘While content and language form a certain unity in the original, like a fruit and its skin, the language of the translation envelopes its content like a royal robe with ample folds.’ To extend the spectrum of conceits, translation and transplantation are metaphors for each other, the distinction between languages implying that between the locations from which they stem.
Consider Samuel Beckett’s emigration from Ireland to France in the 1930s, and his subsequent adoption of French as the first language of his writing, often to be translated by himself back into English. The French language was an eluding of the assumptions, prescriptions and facilities inherited from his home culture, as the somewhat later English translations of his French texts were a smuggling back of material to the place in which it can be said to have originated. This back-andforth emphasises cultural difference. Translation, ironing out otherness, is founded on the otherness that requires it. Theoretically, it is a process which would be rendered increasingly unnecessary by a fully evolved ‘information age’, in which distance and difference are neutralised by the speed and convenience with which data – and the experience it supposedly conveys – would be transmitted in fewer languages (ie English, Chinese) with their ever-increasing hegemony. In the meantime,
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