New York’s ‘Temporary Center for Translation’: A ‘Modest Experiment’

Some vision of “fidelity” to a translated work is surely necessary — otherwise, what would make it a translation? — but the “Temporary Center for Translation,” which opens tomorrow at the New Museum in New York, interregates “what exactly constitutes a likeness”:

The “Temporary Center,” which bills itself as a “modest experiment” and will remain open through September 28, “has an exhibit of documents and videos from various translation-related projects, as well as a small reference library,” according to project curator Omar Berrada. “It will also unfold a few projects over the next couple of months, including commissioned translations of texts and experiments with collaborative translation via a software tool called TLHUB.”

In addition to formal projects, the “Temporary Center” also is open to working translators who want to come use its small research library, computers equipped with TLHUB, or a working space where co-translators might meet up.

Throughout the next two months, the project will experiment with translations, including of an essay, “Saving Face,” by Lebanese artist/writer Jalal Toufic, which will be translated into Arabic and French, and an essay by contemporary Moroccan philosopher Abdessalam Benabdelali,  “Fi Mir’at al-Akhar,” which will be twice translated from Arabic into English. The first will be a “straightforward” translation, and the second a more “creative” writing-through by Christian Hawkey.

As Berrada notes, Benabdelali’s work, while prominent in Arabic, has not yet been translated into English.

The “Temporary Center” will be “taking place at the same time as (and in conversation with) the ‘Here and Elsewhere‘ exhibit at the New Museum,” Berrada says, “which is a large scale exhibit of contemporary Arab artists.”

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