Engage with the task of the translator through a dynamic new movement piece
Translating, like any kind of writing, is a physical as well as a mental act. It engages muscle memory, produces rigid or relaxed postures, and relies on repetitive movements. The translator might sometimes make noise through their typing, writing, or the rearranging of papers. They might be compelled to respond to their work with gestures, habitual fidgets and pauses. They may read aloud, or converse with collaborators, knotting and weaving threads between texts and voices.Translators Sophie Seita and Jen Calleja perform a new movement piece that explores the body and work of the translator.
Created as part of both the Writing: Making Your Mark exhibition and Translator-in-Residence scheme, translators Sophie Seita and Jen Calleja engage with the often out-of-sight body and task of the translator, as well as the materiality and visual metaphors of the translation process, through a new movement piece.
Incorporating props, costume, sound and interactive elements, this short performance is an intervention in one of the British Library’s public spaces to show solidarity with translators and their art. Plaiting, Knotting, Weaving explores ideas of transfer, dialogue, creativity and labour, and amplifies this unique form of creative writing.
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Jen Calleja is a writer, literary translator and musician. She has translated works by Wim Wenders, Marion Poschmann, Kerstin Hensel, Michelle Steinbeck and Gregor Hens, among others, and her translations have featured in The New Yorker and The White Review. The inaugural Translator-in-Residence at the British Library (2017-2018), Jen has given talks and devised interactive performances on translation at the Wellcome Collection and Tate Modern. She has performed internationally in the band Sauna Youth and is currently exploring feminist performance practices and the figure of the translator in her writing.
Sophie Seita is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice spans text- and research-based work, translation, performances, lecture-performances, videos, and multimedia collaborations. Her work has been presented at a number of art festivals and cultural institutions including the Arnolfini, Parasol Unit and the Royal Academy. Sophie has translated works by poet Uljana Wolf; is the author of Provisional Avant-Gardes (Stanford, 2019, forthcoming), and the editor of The Blind Man (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2017) named one of the Best Art Books of 2017 by The New York Times. She also teaches English Literature at the University of Cambridge.