Translation as Research with Ahmad Diab, Anneka Lenssen, and Kathy Zarur
To celebrate the upcoming publication of the anthology Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2018), co-editor Anneka Lenssen (Assistant Professor, Global Modern Art, UC Berkeley) joins Ahmad Diab(Assistant Professor of Arabic Literature, UC Berkeley), and Kathy Zarur (curator and Lecturer in Visual Studies, CCA) in a conversation exploring the possibilities of translation as artistic research. The event will feature brief readings in English and Arabic of texts in the anthology and a discussion of related works of art. In turn, specific of acts of translation (whether between languages, or between text and image) will be examined in relation to problems of global canon, world literature, and the internationalism of socialist pathways of cultural exchange in the 1960s and 1970s–the latter engaged in its own, important translational projects. In light of recent efforts in the United States to revisit and revive Arab modernist and avant-garde histories by means of translation, how do we understand the hopes and challenges of this period? To what extent did artists themselves, located in complicated colonial and post-colonial conditions, already work by translation—between languages, materials, and worldview? And in what ways might such translations-as-research intervene upon contemporary cultural practice?
Ahmad Diab is Assistant Professor of modern Arabic literature in the Near Eastern Studies Department at UC Berkeley. He received his B.A. from Damascus University, majoring in English Literature. His teaching and research interests are twentieth and twenty-first century Arabic literature, translation studies and Middle Eastern cinema. He is currently working on a book manuscript based on his PhD dissertation at NYU; it analyzes literary and filmic representations of Arabs in Palestinian cultural production. He has translated the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish and Muhammad Al-Maghout and is currently compiling an anthology of new Syrian poetry.
Anneka Lenssen is Assistant Professor of global modern art in the History of Art Department at UC Berkeley, where her research and teaching interests include modern painting and contemporary visual culture in the Middle East. Her anthology Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents, which she co-edited with Nada Shabout and Sarah Rogers, will be published by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, this March.
Kathy Zarur is a Lecturer in Visual Studies at the California College of Arts, a curator, an educator, and an arts organizer with a focus on the art and growing museum industry in the Middle East. She was Artistic Director of Teaching Art of the Middle East and Islamic World,a two-day conference and pedagogy workshop held at the de Young Museum and San Francisco State University. Recent exhibitions include Where Is Here (co-curated with Jacqueline Francis, Museum of the African Diaspora, 2017) and Mashrabiya: The Art of Looking Back (co-curated with Santhi Kavuri-Bauer and San Francisco State University Fine Arts Gallery, 2017).