Booklyn Artists Alliance

Found In Translation

Imagine Peace, Yoko Ono, from Aaron Sinift's collaborative artist book, 5 Year Plan, 2010

An updated version of the Found in Translation Exhibit was held at the Sykes Gallery of Millersville University in Millersville, Pennsylvania from February 21st through March 22nd, 2012. Curator Marshall Weber lectured at the gallery at noon on March 22nd.

Featuring artworks by:
Ryoko Adachi, Japan, Chinghiz Aitmatow, Kyrgyzstan, Clemens-Tobias Lange, Germany, Yoko Ono, USA, Eliana Perez, Columbia/USA, Veronika Schäpers, Japan, Xu Bing, China, Zahra Partovi, USA

Installation, Millersville University

A Multi-media Touring Exhibition
Figures of Speech, by Eliana Perez, Ulrike Stoltz, Marshall Weber and Christopher Wilde
The Found in Translation catalog is now available from Booklyn! This ingeneous little working document includes essays by Zahra Partovi and Dr. Gavin Bart, and a full description (with color photographs) of the exhibition. To order the catalog visit Buy Booklyn.

Exhibition History

The Booklyn Found in Translation touring exhibition opened at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts on January 27, 2007 and ran through April 28, 2007.

The exhibit was held at the New York Center for Book Arts from September 29, 2006, through December 9th and had record breaking attendance and a provocative panel discussion with Zahra Partovi and MT Karthik on October 27th.

The exhibition also ran from May 12 through July 21st, 2006 at the San Francisco Center for the Book. According to director Steve Woodall the exhibit saw more than 2,000 viewers and was very positively reviewed in AfterImage Magazine's Winter 2006 issue and the Artists Book Yearbook's 2007-2009 edition.

Please visit the San Francisco Center for the Book's fabulous webpages for the exhibition.

Download a PDF exhibition checklist.

Table of Contents
Short Description
Exhibition Description
A Note on Flexibility
The Book as a Vehicle of Translation
Goals Within and Beyond the Book Arts Field
Participating Artists and Collaborative Groups (with URL links)
Abstract for the Found in Translation catalog.
Artists and Writers in the Exhibition

Exhibition view from the San Francisco Center for the Book

Short Description
Found in Translation is an international touring exhibition of multi-lingual artists books, prints, and digital and video documentation of innovative projects that explore the cognitive, literary, and political processes of translation. The exhibition will be accompanied by an innovative working document catalog, live events programmed by each exhibition site, and this website. Curated by Marshall Weber and produced by Booklyn, the San Francisco Center for the Book, The Center for Book Arts in New York City, and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts.

Exhibition Description
Translation is basic to our existence as human beings. It is what creates and defines us as a species; from the use of the word to signify the genetic function of our RNA to the internal process whereby our cerebral cortex translates our thoughts into language. Using the term ‘translation’ in a generous and inclusive manner this exhibit examines our human struggle to transform human experience, perception, and thought into acts and materials of communication. Focusing on the success of this process and on that which has been found rather than that which has been lost, Found in Translation is a celebration of some of the positive aspects of Globalization.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog and a website documenting the exhibition and exploring the issues of translation in depth. Events, such as multi-lingual performances, panels, and screenings will be programmed by the local venues.

There are copies of many of the books exhibited (or facsimiles and/or trade editions of the books) available for handling by the public. The exhibition has DVD, audio and web-based components to provide a rich experiential and informational environment complementing the artworks.

In a quickly integrating global culture the conventional translation of texts from one language to another, from one value system to another, is paralleled by the internal translation of text from consciousness to articulation, and from cognition to speech and writing. New discoveries in comparative linguistics, cognitive science, and neurology have greatly expanded our abilities to communicate and to understand how and perhaps even why we communicate. Meanwhile advances in literary theory, philosophy and post-modern theory have brought the realization that within the phenomenon of translation - what is not understood, what is genuinely not translatable, what is different is about our social cultures and our individual brains and minds presents not a barrier to specific communication but a crisis of comprehension that provides an opportunity for empathy and understanding. True cross-cultural dialog is not about rendering everything into a static similarity (the specter of cultural relativism) but about acknowledging that it is the differences in various human perspectives that provide the vehicle for the sharing of experience. It is all about finding - not losing.

Along with artists, scientists and spiritual leaders have approached issues and practices of translation from a multi-faceted spectrum of diverse motivations. This exhibit will bring various practices together in an interdisciplinary environment. Global communications has in part diminished the barriers of differing languages; and if this globalism endangers the existence of many languages, perhaps it also presents chances to preserve and rediscover others. In our bodies we find the forms of our alphabets, and vice versa. The genome is the language of the Golem bringing the formula of life to our reading eyes. As we translate that sequence, we also attempt to find language to translate our sexual identities into our physical realities, as Clarissa Sligh documents in her Wrongly Bodied Two book.

Via the act of translation: we can reconsider our very relationship with our own existence as considered by the texts rediscovered by the Asian Classics Input Project, we can assist non-reading societies to preserve and pass down their knowledge of indigenous medicinal plants, as Nat Bletter does in his field work, and we can question the politics of language itself like Enrique Chagoya, Guillermo Gómez-Peña in their Codex Espangliensis. There is always more to find than there is to lose.

The Book as a Vehicle of Translation
Book artists have always been in the center of the multiple issues of translation as they literally materialize ideas, images and language into that most ubiquitous vehicle of communication – the book. With artist/writers working in an international culture amongst very diverse communities we see the rise of multi-lingual and multi-cultural books. Many of these books investigate the process of translation and some have made those investigations apparent and self-referential. Found in Translation celebrates the ability of literary and visual languages (and their various modes of integration into the book form) to convey meaning, sometimes precisely and sometimes ambiguously.

Using the above observations as a context this exhibition presents the work of organizations and artists who use the various forms of the book to explore the global terrain of translation.

Goals Within and Beyond the Book Arts Field
The current movement to more closely network the national book art centers provides a perfect opportunity for a high profile exhibition that will catch the attention of the literary, art and popular press thus popularizing the book centers and bringing them into the radar of the art and literary worlds.

Found In Translation will be a significant exhibit for the book arts field, integrating theoretical, practical, literary and aesthetic concerns in an interdisciplinary environment. But even more importantly, it will be a valuable experience for the general viewing public providing both a hands on experience with notable works of art and an introduction to various inspiring translation projects and practices that use the book as an innovative focusing tool for human development and historical investigation.

Many of the projects documented in the exhibit operate far outside the world of artists’ books, but in their exceedingly innovative, productive, and sometimes-provocative use of the book (as evidenced by the impact of these projects in the world) they are crucially relevant to the book arts world in its current leap into maturity. One of the exhibit’s goals is to start a interdisciplinary dialog that is evident and accessible to the viewer of the exhibit.

The exhibit is designed to be accessible to the general public from middle school age (12 years old) up. While the exhibit will be an interdisciplinary, multi-lingual exhibition designed to attract both interested lay people and professionals working in a variety of the arts and sciences. Components of the exhibition explore the arts, Asian studies, Buddhism, Chicano studies, ethno-botany, cognitive and neurological science, cultural and gender studies, ethics, genetics, history, linguistics, literature, semiotics, species co-evolution theory, women’s studies, and a plethora of other related disciplines that will attract a diverse audience to the tour and its various publications and programs.

Participating Artists and Collaborative Groups (with URL links when available)

I. The Asian Classics Input Project (ACIP)
1. Various

The ACIP component of the exhibit will feature books, documents, photographs, video and web based documentation of their worldwide translation project and the Buddhist practice of using a daily journal (the ‘six times book’) to examine one’s ethical behavior. ACIP works to preserve the disappearing books containing the great ideas of the Asian world and to make these books and ideas accessible to the world at large. ACIP searches the globe for the remaining collections of books, records their location and contents in catalog form, copies the books, and inputs the text into computers at data entry centers that we have established around the world. People from the countries where these great books originate staff most of these data centers; many are refugees, or living in countries where economic or political problems endanger their great books, and even the right to read and study them.

II. Tides Story
2. Kurt Allerslev, N.Y., NY
3. Eliana Perez, Cali, Columbia/Brooklyn, NY
4. Marshall Weber, Brooklyn, NY
5. Christopher Wilde, Brooklyn, NY
6. Xu Bing, Beijing, China/Brooklyn, NY

The Tides Story is an international artists’ collaboration that will produce a multi-lingual unique book, a unique scroll and a limited edition artists book titled The Tides Story. These artworks will be created specifically for the Found In Translation exhibition and will examine the dialogs between translations of a poem in visual imagery, Chinese, English, and Spanish.

Codex Espangliensis_2.jpg
III. Codex Espangliensis, published by Moving Parts Press
7. Enrique Chagoya, San Francisco, CA l
8. Guillermo Gómez-Peña, San Francisco, CA
9. Jennifer González, San Francisco, CA
10. Felicia Rice, Santa Cruz, CA

A collaborative artists' book made up of performance texts and poems by Guillermo Gómez-Peña interwoven with collage imagery by Enrique Chagoya and made into book form by Felicia Rice of Moving Parts Press. It chronicles and confronts the realities and surrealities of border culture on the eve of the millennium. Collage images juxtapose examples of graphic art from pre-Hispanic times to present-day Mexico with traditions of Western art and contemporary American pop culture. The series of performance texts and poems are selected from the writer's works over his twenty-year career

IV. Discourse On The Polarizing Events of 2001
11. M.T. Karthik, Chennai, India with A.P. Ferrara, Brooklyn, NY

AKA The D.o.P.E. 2001 Archive, this four volume work with appendices and a library of related texts, video and audio components, is an archive of documentation concerning the violent polarizing events of September 11, 2001, in the United States of America [and in particular in New York, NY]. Collected in the 85 days after the attacks, the work is constructed from thousands of printed documents and various media from dozens of international sources. Language was one of the many casualties of the post-9/11 aftermath. The Bush administration withheld information under the rubric of National Security, leaving the world to wonder what exactly happened on that fateful morning. American corporate media then filled the gap by transforming the reality of the events into a series of self- and administration-serving mythologies. Thus a real event was translated into a media event. In a monumental endeavor, undertaken at the time and in New York, Karthik and Ferrara attempted to capture the tension between these expressions and to translate the media event back into a real world event. As a multi-lingual writer, performance artist, journalist, critic and recent former news director of Pacifica Radio Station KPFK in Los Angeles, Karthik was especially qualified to undertake this massive project.

Ho Chi Minh 2.jpg
V. An Artist’s Portrait of Ho Chi Minh
12. C. David Thomas, Newton Centre, MA
13. Charles Fenn, Boston, MA

A hand printed book in five parts: images of Ho Chi Minh and his life and times, a fictional diary of Ho Chi Min's written by Mr. Charles Fenn. (Mr. Fenn both knew and worked with Ho during WW II and wrote a biography of Ho in 1973,) stories about Ho's life and times, and poetry and writing by Ho Chi Minh himself. This magnificent book rediscovers a particular mythos of a man whose history has been obscured by partisan politics. Along with the original book, trade editions of the book in English and French, and Vietnamese, will be exhibited.

VI. Indigenous Medicinal Plant Talking Books
14. Nat Bletter, N.Y., NY
As part of his field work as an ethno-botanist, Bletter has re-designed commercial talking photo-albums (that use digital voice recorder chips) to house photographs of indigenous medicinal plants with spoken descriptions (in local dialects) of their type, location and medicinal use to non-reading tribal communities worldwide. Further customizing the books so that they are powered by solar cells Bletter has initiated a self-sufficient local/global project to preserve and expand upon traditional use of medicinal plants.

Please visit Nat's websites:#1 and #2.

VII. The Poetry of Chance Encounters
15. Harriet Bart, Minneapolis, Minnesota

In this book, (published under Bart’s Mnemonic Press imprint) Bart presents a collection of texts drawn from many sources, both common and obscure; the poetry of Rimbaud, an autograph manuscript by Emily Dickinson, an excerpt from the Opiate Receptor gene of the human genome. These are but a few of the fragments illuminated by gilded icons. A bowl. A chalice. A hand mirror. An amphora… a collection of quotidian objects throughout the ages. In this esoteric survey of ‘found’ texts Bart illuminates numerous alphabetical, numeric and symbolic languages providing a myriad of interpretative experiences.

Square Word Calligraphy_1.jpg
VIII. New English (Square Word) Calligraphy
16. Xu Bing, Brooklyn, NY

This set of artists’ books provides instruction and practice space for the basic principles of New English Calligraphy, a writing system invented and designed by the artist which is a fusion of written English and written Chinese. The letters of a English words are slightly altered and arranged in a square word format so that the word takes on the ostensible form of a Chinese character, yet remains legible to the English reader. As people attempt to recognize and write these words, some of the thinking patterns that have been ingrained in them since they learned to read are challenged. It is the artists' belief that people must have their routine thinking attacked in this way. Workshops by the artist prompt this attack (with the assistance of instructional videos and copybooks). While undergoing this process of estrangement and re-familiarization with one's written language, the audience is reminded that the sensation of distance between other systems of language and one’s own is largely self-induced.

L Koch, butcher, pair.jpg
Butcher, from Notes from the Stone-Paved Path
IX.Notes from the Stone-Paved Path
17. Lewis Koch, Madison, Wisconsin
L Koch, eye-text, pair.jpg
eye-text, from Notes from the Stone-Paved Path
For nearly a year, from 1995-96, Koch and his family lived and worked in the Tibetan community in Dharamsala, north India. During that time he rambled throughout the region “making pictures” (Koch’s phrase for his particular type of intimate and unobtrusive photographic practice). He later paired the original photographs with ones he made of selected book pages from diverse sources from or about India. Koch’s amazing ‘found’ images and their juxtaposition with ‘found’ texts create dynamic compositions that subtly interrogate our assumptions about the construction of observation and meaning.

Jack and Betty Forever

X. Jack and Betty Forever and In Praise of Typhoons
18. Veronika Schäpers, Tokyo Japan
19. Durs Grünbein, Berlin, Germany
20. Shimizu Yoshinori, Tokyo, Japan

Schäpers uses multi-lingual formats, and multi-cultural aesthetics to publish the writing of contemporary writers who write about the use (and abuse) of language and linguistic traditions. Her gorgeous hand printed and bound artists’ books always involve an intensively tactile and intimate uncovering ritual.

XI. The Song of the Rider
21. Chinghiz Aitmatow, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan/Brussels, Belgium
22. Jutta Schwöbel, Hamburg, Germany
23. Clemens-Tobias Lange, Hamburg, Germany

A collaboration of Clemens-Tobias Lange, the great Kyrgyz writer Chinghiz Aitmatow, and the photographer Jutta Schwöbel; this is the first written edition of the Russian (original) text, as well as the first written translations into Kyrgyz (using the Uigur alphabet) and German language. The book is dedicated to the origin of man’s close relationship with the horse that began in the steppes of Central Asia and features Schwöbel's photographic study of the comparison of the physiognomy of horses with the landscapes of Kyrgyzstan. The ‘Rider’ is a man traveling around on horseback, telling news and passing on traditional customs and myths to the nomad inhabitants of the steppes.


XII. The Translation work of Zahra Partovi
24. Zahra Partovi, N.Y., NY

Deception, verse by Rumi, Jalaluddin Mohammad, translated by Zahra Partovi, illustrations by Elizabeth Harington, calligraphy by Jerry Kelly, published by Vincent FitzGerald & Company, New York, in 1998 in an edition of 50 copies. An evocative text by Rumi with the original Persian verse (and an English translation) by the thirteenth-century Sufi philosopher and poet. Zahra Partovi, the translator, explains her work. "…This masterful poet combines philosophy, mysticism, and psychology in a language so piercing as to enter the realm of music. It is this element more than any other which has made Rumi's poetry so irresistible to readers for over seven hundred years, even through the filter of translation." Both Rumi and Partovi write extensively about language and various concerns of translation.
Footsteps, by Zahra Partovi, 1996, video 16 minutes, poetry by Rumi read in English and Persian (Partovi’s translation) with imageries of Konya, Turkey, where Rumi lived and wrote.

XIII. Wrongly Bodied Two
25. Clarissa Sligh, N.Y., NY

The Wrongly Bodied Two book was recently completed at Women’s Studio Workshop in the fall of 2004. The book and related project recounts the stories of Jake, a contemporary white male as he transitions from female to male and Ellen Craft, a 19th century black woman who escapes slavery by passing as a white man. Through these narratives and Sligh’s response to them, American society's psychological reaction to the so-called transgressive act of changing one's identity and crossing boundaries of gender, race and class in a "free and open" society is explored. Sligh examines the often volatile, colloquial, legal and emotional language permeating the conflict between the personal and social vocabularies created by these issues and identities. She translates intimate internal experiences into evocative words and images.

Abstract for the Found in Translation catalog.

Introduction by the curator Marshall Weber

Notes from the Exhibition Directors: Steve Woodall, The San Francisco Center for the Book, Alexander Campos, The New York Center For Book Arts, and Jeff Rathermel, Minnesota Center for Book Arts.

PART I: Process
Chapter One, "Translating Meaning and Music" by Zahra Parvoti
Chapter Two, "Blast: Remarks on language, genetics, and addiction", Gavin Bart

PART II: Exhibition
One to four pages for each of the 13 artwork/project in the exhibition; each with: an artist’s/project director’s statement about their artwork/project, a short biography of each artist/project director, contact information (if desired), and photographs of the artwork/project.

Descriptions of Booklyn and the three exhibition venues and contact information.
Photographs of the exhibition as installed at various venues, and the exhibited books and works on paper will illustrate the poetry, excerpts from texts of books from the exhibition, and the essays throughout the catalog.

The book will be approximately 9’ x 11”, 120 pages, with and 40 black and white illustrations.

Artists and Writers in the Exhibition
A.P. Ferrara, Brooklyn, NY,
Asian Classics Input Project (ACIP), N.Y., NY,
C. David Thomas, Newton Centre, MA,
Charles Fenn, Boston, MA,
Chinghiz Aitmatow, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan,
Christopher Wilde, Brooklyn, NY,
Clarissa Sligh, N.Y., NY,
Clemens-Tobias Lange, Hamburg, Germany
Eliana Perez, Bogotá, Columbia/Brooklyn, NY
Enrique Chagoya, San Francisco, CA,
Felicia Rice, Santa Cruz, CA
Guillermo Gómez-Peña, San Francisco, CA
Harriet Bart, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
Jennifer González, San Francisco, CA
Jesse Coffino-Greenburg, New York, NY
Jutta Schwöbel, Hamburg, Germany
Kurt Allerslev, N.Y., NY
Lewis Koch, Madison, Wisconsin
M.T. Karthik, Chennai, India
Marshall Weber, N.Y., NY,
Nat Bletter, N.Y., NY,
Shimizu Yoshinori, Tokyo, Japan,
Veronika Schäpers, Tokyo Japan,
Xu Bing, Brooklyn, NY,
Zahra Partovi, N.Y., NY
Zhai Yong-ming, ChongQuing, China

nysca_black copy.jpg
This Exhibition is made possible with public funds
from the New York State Council on the Arts,
a State agency.

This page is maintained by Marshall Weber. All contents property of Booklyn Artists Alliance. Art is property of the creator. Rights reserved.
For editorial concerns, contact Booklyn staff.