Translation across mediums

16th of December 2020
Chair Dr. Atsu Ito with Matthew Keehan and Emma Justice


14.00 – 14:15 and 5min Q and A

Translating from one art to another, Richter’s trans-artistic landscape
Anthi-Danaé Spathoni

Throughout Gerhard Richter’s long career, landscape genre is among his favorite subjects and in constant exchange with different arts, especially photography that can take several functions. This dialogue broadens landscape’s notion and transforms it to a perpetually open work of art, as Gérard Genette would put it, integrating an infinite number of other works and thus obtaining an abundance of mobile relationships.

This paper explores these relationships as they develop in the artist’s different landscape practices. To this end, the wide concept of translation could be applied to describe the passage from one art to another: photography is translated into painting and, the canvas into the language and means of the photographic medium. Both painting and photography are transferred to the medium of the livre d’artiste which becomes an instrument to read and view both arts. In all those cases of intermedial translations, the original work of art loses all the qualities of its medium but, as it is adapted to another one, it gains new characteristics. Richter’s artistic poesis demonstrates how the transfer from one art to another that can go both ways (from art A to art B, and from art B to art A). The resulting works of art not only enrich and reinvent landscape painting. They are also products of equal artistic importance reversing translation’s traditional hierarchical structures.

Anthi-Danaé Spathoni has received her PhD in Aesthetics and Art History in the University of Rennes 2 (France). Her doctoral research focuses on the work of Cy Twombly and Gerhard Richter and treats the idea of landscape in abstraction in a multidisciplinary context. She counts various publications on Cy Twombly, Gerhard Richter, David Hockney and Paul Klee among others, and her first book TWOMBLY ‘a selection of essays’, 2019, was presented last September in the Gagosian Gallery in London. She is currently working with Didier Ottinger as curatorial researcher and assistant in the Musée  d’Art  Moderne  Centre  Pompidou in Paris.

14:20- 14:35 and 5min Q and A

From Canvas into the Theatre Magritte – The Cloud Man
Zsanett Lengyel

René Magritte (1898–1967) is one of the most famous surrealist painters, whose works, with their characteristic handwritings – uniformed figures – are adapted and inspired by his world in many fields, so the field of theater, more precisely the field of dance theater, was no exception. Magritte’s very known figures, forms, topics are unique.  Different art fields always can transform art into another art segment and its offers us content to analyze. This paper aims to highlight individual remarks which each segment has.

The thesis of the research: the dance theater adaptation of Magritte’s art is a borderline crossing through which the true vision of fine art cannot be enforced. Translation cannot be complete while still broadening the possibilities of painting.

In 2019, the PR-Evolution Dance Company presented a very clear surrealist contemporary dance performance titled Magritte – The Cloud Man at the Hungarian National Dance Theater. The play is a joint performance of theater, dance, music, and art history. My current research is not willing to analyze the performance from the side of just an art history but to focus on the art itself, and the translation of Magritte’s paintings into the language of dance theater and theater. Magritte’s paintings are being translated into the dance’s language which is usually the body, and Magritte’s vision has got a performative power.

I aim to interpret, through the example of contemporary dance performance, that art history expands the possibilities of interpreting Magritte’s paintings to translate the language of painting into the language of the body, while the interpretation of dance theater and movement prescribes a certain background of the interpretation. My main research questions are: Could a dance theater performance that requires a lot of prior knowledge be successful? In what area is the interpretation of Magritte’s painting damaged, and can the performance be considered an adaptation of Magritte’s painting at all? More intense, is it possible to transform a particular painting into another field of art without compromising its essence, its authenticity?

The research method contains conventional dance theatre play’s analysis using the described methodology by Patrice Pavis. The connection between the paintings and the dance theater through various adaptations are emphasis that need more focus the adaptation itself. Non-perfomative paintings in itself exits its framework and is staged with multiple added functions just as performativity, authenticity. The question is valid: why it is important to analyze it? An in-depth analysis of the play is needed because it helps to understand the transformation between two completely different branches of art while broadening the boundaries of both. It is a non-conformist, contemporary performance that focuses on the theatrical release of the fine arts. Furthermore, is it a violent act? Unfortunately, the adaptation of Magritte’s paintings cannot be fully established, on the other hand, it illustrates the contemporary possibilities of dance theater and fine arts, connecting the past and the present with each other.

Zsanett Lengyel is an expert of design and art theory and communication. She has graduated from Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design and University of Debrecen. She is currently a Ph.D. Student Researcher at Doctoral School of Literary Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Pécs. Her researches focus on various themes of theatre and art history since 2015. Also, she has several publications in different genres: critics, research papers, reviews.

14:40 – 14:55 and 5min Q and A

Abanindranath Tagore’s Khuddur Jatra: a creative adventure at the crossroads of modernity
Rupsa Kundu

From the very beginning, translation has been a significant part of Abanindranath Tagore’s work. Popularly known as Aban Thakur, he was one of the early Indian modernists and played an important role in the nationalist art movement in Bengal. With a constant exchange between different mediums, styles and artistic language, a lot of Abanindranath’s paintings can be seen as visual translations of older texts. Inspired by the epics to Indian Puranas, from Persian poetry to the famous ‘Arabian nights’, Abanindranath reinterpreted their old flavour in a new aroma. While his paintings often reflect upon written texts, a famous saying about his writings is that they are painted with words.

In the twilight zone of his creative life, Abanindranath’s versatile genius engaged in a more private form of art practice. Created in the same personal spirit, ‘Khuddur Jatra’ accommodates an organic cohabitation of words and images in constant translation. While the form unfamiliar and the work underappreciated by his contemporaries, it can be easily identified as an avant-garde Artist’s book. While in Europe, ‘artist’s book’ as a creative form acquired more collective attention amongst the Dadaists or the futurists, Abanindranath Tagore, one of the first modern artists in colonized India, was also the first to understand its scope. In his later days, Abanindranath went on a different path of creative activities and started writing a few plays for the children to enjoy and enact. One of such surviving manuscripts is ‘Khuddur Jatra’. This notebook, later published by ‘Pratikshan publisher’ in 2009, is an exemplary artwork of poetic translations that take place in multiple layers. While the main text is a modern narrative of the epic Ramayana that encounters 19th-century cultural elitism with the subaltern voice of the protagonist Khudiram, the artist passed over the creative agency, for further translations to take place in its performance. Moreover, the work opens dialogues with its accompanying visuals. Sometimes the discarded portions of the draft are turned into playful drawings, sometimes the careful placements of several paper clippings and collages accumulated from various sources of the contemporary print world, sheds completely new light on their accompanying text. This paper discusses the different modes of translations and how they are accommodated in this work as well as explore the coexistence of disciplines that creates its volatile shape inspired by a global creative vocabulary of Artist’s books.

An immediate Master’s graduate from the Department of History of Art, Visva-Bharati University, Rupsa has previously completed her bachelor’s in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur University. Academically her interest pursues different areas of interdisciplinary as well as cross-cultural interactions in artistic activities in the South Asian panorama. Her writings have been published in Arekrokom Patrika (Kolkata), Searching Lines Magazine (VisvaBharati University), and the Exchange and Flow anthology( University of Plymouth). Experimenting with different forms of visual storytelling as well as multi-media installations, Rupsa is also a practicing artist and has taken part in exhibitions and residencies around the world. Amongst others, she was a participant in Fertellendandeweis, International art camp, which was a program of Leeuwarden Cultural Capital of Europe.

15:00- 15:15 and 5min Q and A

Reference, Figurativity, and Performativity: Translational Poetics of Marina Abramović “Seven Easy Pieces”
Egri Petra

The performance art of Marina Abramović integrates into itself avantgarde and post-avantgarde trends like Antonin Artaud’s theatre of cruelty. Its additional achievement is that through the performances and her connected critical explanations she reshapes the idea of the poetic fabric of theatrical (visual, textual) presentation as well. In her performances the figurative language of a visual/narrative presentation is mixed with bodily, traumatic realities, miming and disrupting the classical aesthetic understanding of artistic work. Abramović performance guidelines, stage settings, and connected exhibitions (The Cleaner) also operate as visual-poetical constructs creating additional (and often disrupting) imaginary narratives.

The Abramović performances regularly put a strain on referentiality through the reality of her own body, through which the essentially unavailable Real is projected into the Symbolic world of figurative, predominantly allegorical presentation. Abramović would not follow the traditional mimetic poetics but initiates a kind of translation in Walter Benjamin’s, Jacques Derrida’s (translation as an event)  and Paul de Man’s (translation as rhetorics of a subjectivity) sense of the term. She creates a non-metaphorical, non-hermeneutical second vision, not simply a verbal or visual Setzung, but more of a bodily Übersetzung that operates through some radical metonymies of the body, through tormenting, death instinct related activities, shaped by a model of recollected traumatic experiences. The presentation, the performative act avoids the usual romanticism-based expectation of metaphorical (subjective) meaning. Instead, it brings in parallel deconstructing object-complexes of her own body.  In her poetics she turns back to primary abjections, to the essentially refused objet a feelings that reflect (translate) Imaginary and Real parallels. The inner, often sexual and aggressive desire-based self-realization deconstructs the regular allegorical attachments (like the red star cut into her own body or the cross made of ice) that reflect the autobiographical context, a childhood world of the artist.

My paper interprets the series of “Seven Easy Pieces”, a 2005 Guggenheim Museum “re-staged” documentation of early iconic performances from the 1970s. The project radically questioned the possibility of redoing, preserving the “performing art form” which is by nature ephemeral and always already in the past, even if we are just watching it “now”.  In my lecture, I attempt the deconstructive analysis of the “Seven Easy Pieces” with a mixed-method built on the theories of Derrida, de Man, and the psychoanalytic formalism of Lacan. Through the analyses of the re-staged and “exhibited” performances of Abramovic, I attempt to answer the questions: What kind of translation scenes are mobilized in her work? Could any translation be identified or the performance itself always resist?

Petra Egri is a research fellow at the Department of Literary Theory and Modern Literature, University of Pécs, Hungary; teaches courses Literature and related arts and Fashion in Fiction. Her research interest and publications are in theatre, performance, and fashion. She is a member of the research group Poetics, Psychoanalysis and Culture. Egri has published her research in professional journals and edited books in English, Hungarian and Russian, served as a co-editor of a book (in Hungarian) titled Contactzones: The Connection of Theatre Studies with Other Fields. She published a paper in Russian in the journal titled Fashion Theory on late socialist neo-avantgarde fashion performances. She has lectured at numerous international conferences, including Fashion and Design Conference (Pontevedra, 2020), Fashion, Costume and Visual Culture (Roubaix, 2019), Imagining the Unusual: Cognitive
Dissonance, Pattern Breaking and Other Fantastic Beasts (Moscow, 2019) and the Second Textile and Life Conference (Manchester, 2019). Egri is writing a Ph.D. dissertation on major radical performances, analysing their deconstructive rhetorics with the theoretical background of Jacques Derrida, Paul de Man, and contemporary psychoanalysis.

15:25 – 15:55
This section will conclude with a discussion on the topic

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