Translation: Curatorial Axis 2020

Plural Nodo Cultural announces its curatorial axis on 2020.


In the last minutes of the documentary Thinking like a mountain [1], the director’s voiceover says:

Sometimes the best translation is silence.

But he says this in German, his mother tongue (above, there is obviously a translation), while Jwikamey, a young Arhuaco and his friend, walks on the beach. For the young filmmaker, the image of his friend that swings between the sea and the summit is the representation of living between two worlds.

To live between two worlds is to live in an interstitium. An interstitium is a space that mediates between two places. To mediate is to intervene, is to intercede. In this way, being between two points indicates the possibility to approach, to connect, to build or to being a bridge and, therefore, the power to come and go; in other words: the power of the process of moving something from one place to another, which is the meaning of Latin traductĭo, -ōnis, origin of the word traducción (translation).

Translation, in terms of language, is mostly known as the exercise of turn from one language to another; however, in a deeper layer, it is an operation that is executed daily in communication. The attempt to understand or make sense, the basis of this operation, is what embodies the interpreter. This, is the subject – and even machine [2] – that is in the interstitium awaiting to carry out the translation. But interpreting, translating, triggers a series of concerns that have been the subject of different studies; especially because it is argued that the result of the operation is not faithful to the original, or as Borges, that would act as a translator, would write: The original is unfaithful to the translation. This puts Walter Benjamin on the plane who, in The translator’s task [3], argues that translation is another form and that it acts as a survival maneuver for the original.

If it is another form, then it is possible to speak of translation as a field of creation, to the extent that an interpretation responds to the domain of experiences of the interpreter; that is to say, there will be as varied readings of the same objetc as interpreters. This is how translations can be seen not only as the result of a connection of one point to another, but particularly as producers of new configurations (not to mention: differences).

It is likely that the power of a new configuration, seen as a reinscription with a right to mean by itself, depends on what is omitted from its original, on what is silent, on what is lost in translation. For the benefit of this text, the words of the young documentalist can be installed here, pointing to the relationship between silence and translation. Back to the interstitium, it is no longer Jwikamey who walks between two worlds, but the ghost of Alastair Reid (translator of Borges and Neruda) who in What Gets Lost [4], says: “Somos fantasmas, nosotros traductores, que viven / entre aquel mundo y el nuestro / between that world and our own. […]”. “[…] el problema es éste this is the difficulty. / Lo que se pierde what gets lost / no es lo que se pierde en traducción sino / is not what gets lost in translation, but rather / what gets lost in language itself lo que se pierde / en el hecho, en la lengua, / en la palabra misma.”

In 2020, through Translations as curatorial axis, Plural Nodo Cultural seeks to be the interstitium inviting narratives and actions -as a vehicle or road-, to investigate and deepen during our programming, the concepts of translation / interpretation as fields of creation. Likewise, through this axis, we seek to promote meetings that invite the constant search for the creation of a new mutual understanding. A consensus is not sought but the propagation of ideas and arguments, always questioning the means, disciplines and methods.


-Andrea Muñoz

[1] Lozano, Ana (Producer), Hick, Alexander (Director). (2018). Thinking like a mountain [documentary]. Flipping the coin productions, in coproduction with University for Television and Films Munich supported by FilmFernsehFonds Bayern and Freunde und Förderer der HFF München. [Info:]
This documentary shows the director’s personal trip with the Arhuacos in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (Colombia). There he finds how they through their cosmogony have resisted different socio-political, economic and environmental problems to maintain their legacy and continue to be the guardians of what they consider a sacred place.

[2] Or even program, algorithm. In computer language, the Interpreter is a program capable of analyzing and executing other programs.

[3] Benjamin, W. La tarea del traductor (The translator’s task) (1923). (Hans Christian Hagedorn, trad.)

[4] Reid, A. What Gets Lost. Encontrado en []