The New Alphabet School is a school for artistic, curatorial, poetic and activist research practices. Inaugurated with an (Un-)Learning Place in January 2019 with 80 international participants, it continues as a series of events for self-organized learning, collaboration and discussion. For the edition #1 on Translating, participants of the New Alphabet School convene workshops and invite new members to register and join the school.
Day 1 | Day 2
The workshop will be based on chapter five The Freudian Robot in Lydia H. Liu’s book The Freudian Robot – Digital Media and the Future of the Unconscious (2010). After a short presentation by Lydia H. Liu, the group will engage in a discussion on the difference between alphabetical writing and Chinese letters, on AI development, automation and language and on the question of translation between humans and technology in an entangled techno-linguistic alphanumerical sphere.
The workshop will attempt to read Édouard Glissant’s Poetics of Relations architecturally. Does architecture need to be transparent and universal in order to be global? Or are their local, specific or even opaque global architectures? In the chapter For Opacity in his book The Poetics of Relation, Glissant argues that opacities can co-exist and converge, weaving fabrics. In order to understand these fabrics, one must focus on the texture rather than the nature of its components, suggesting that opacities are a collective construct. How can we view the spontaneous settlements around the world in this view? Can the right to opacity in architecture mean to be locally or even culturally specific? And can the approaches, elements, paths and repetitions in Glissant’s writings be read as architectural elements? In this workshop, we will attempt to map the relations of contemporary architecture as a shifting between transparency and opacity.
The workshop will engage participants in a critical reading of translations on a bodily and linguistic level in contexts of migration, diaspora and other experiences/possibilities of mobility. Reading and visual material will be provided upfront to enhance the discussion about administrative terminologies that have highly political and often discriminatory implications. The personal experience of the organizers and participants as well as the artistic and theoretical input by the invited guests will be the starting point. Together, the group will try to create new multilingual lexicons (visual, written and bodily), and reflect critically on the (im-)possibilities of translation.
2 pm–4.30 pm, Conference Room 2
Translating appropriation, assimilation, anthropophagy
With Mahmoud El Shaer (editor of 28 Magazine, Gaza Strip, Palestine) and his translator, Ibrahim Hannoon, moderated by Marianna Liosi and Walter Solon
Is there an omnipresent Empire (as French collective Tiqqun suggest in This is Not a Program) always oppressing the same victims, with the same forms? Strategies of anticolonial struggle might parallel, echo and reinvent those of colonial domination. Words like “occupation” and “settlements”, usually associated with colonial practices, resurface in the context of Brazil's anticolonial Landless Workers Movement, who “occupy” and build “settlements” on large farming properties. In the internet, contemporary artists and activists are trying to create spaces of resistence using the very tools and aesthetics provided by the corporations forming the digital Empire. This workshop considers the work of translating languages, strategies, and aesthetics of resistance across different cultural and political contexts and discusses possible translational approaches in the realms of art, anthropology and activisms.
2 pm–4.30 pm, Conference Room 3
Staying with the “translation trouble" of Sex and Gender
Moderated by Kamran Behrouz
“Sex” and “gender” are key terms in trans-Atlantic feminist theory and untranslatability studies. When Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble (1990) was translated into other languages, many different translations and neologisms appeared. In Farsi for instance there are insufficient words to address sex, gender, sexuality as well as transgender people. Transsexuality in Iran has not been shaped by similar conceptual distinctions among gender, sex, and sexuality as within the Anglo-American context. As Brad Epps has noted, "Gender trouble, in a global frame, needs to be at once supplemented (in the deconstructive sense) and recast as ‘translation trouble’ or, better yet, ‘language trouble."
Drawing on these arguments, the workshop will deal not only with the untranslatability of the words sex and gender but also reflect on the historical dimension of this “language trouble”. The attempt is to challenge existing methodologies, to re-translate terms or even come up with new terminologies as a solution to avoid ‘cultural discombobulation’.
5 pm–6.30 pm, Rooftop (or Lecture Hall in case of rain)
Roundup Discussion with all participants