From Translation as Erasure to Translation as Listening

On Friday 16th of February I attended the seminar ‘From Translation as Erasure to Translation as Listening’ which was given by Rolando Vazquez and hosted by Nottingham Contemporary as part of their ‘Politics of Translation’ Public Research Programme. Vazquez’s intention was to address three “different orientations of translation: modernity, coloniality and decoloniality”. According to Vazques:

“To raise the question of translation requires us to address issues of power across the colonial difference: who translates, what is translated and for what, who holds the space of translation? The question of translation takes a different shape according to the type of mediation. Translation as modernity functions to affirm the supremacy of the dominant locus of enunciation. Translation as coloniality is a movement of incorporation as erasure of other worlds of meaning, of other forms of relating to the real. Both, translation as modernity and as coloniality work in tandem to enforce modernity as the total horizon of intelligibility, as the monopoly of the real…. Conversely, translation as decoloniality expresses ways in which the modern/colonial divide can be overcome. Translation as decoloniality is engaged with the generation of intercultural encounters towards pluriversal forms of understanding, sensing and doing. A condition for intercultural translation is to recognize each-others positionality in relation to the intersecting axes of oppression that structure the colonial divide. To practice translation decoloniality is to practice a form of listening that enables us to become grounded and legible in relation to the plurality of each-other’s worlds.”

The seminar itself was excellent. Vazquez acted as a generous host by initially outlining some key terms and conditions of inquiry before encouraging us to share our thoughts with each other as a means to map out our own territories of inquiry and question that he could then help us to examine. The seminar itself, and especially the notions of pluriversal forms of understanding, sensing and doing, are clearly providing new tools which, for me, will help us to critically re-think the relationships of art to use and constituency.

Here’s a You Tube link to the talk ‘decolonising, demodernising and decentralising’ that Rolando gave at the L’internationale event ‘Collecting in Transitions’ that I attended in September 2017