The transnational multi-year research project translate aims at exploring the political articulation of the notion of cultural translation in artistic practices as well as in political social movements through a number of arts and exhibition projects, discursive events and networking practices from 2005 to 2008.

translate starts from a thorough critique of the notion of translation. This has become the key metaphor of contemporary cultural discourse in a postdialectical era, regarded as having overcome binary divisions and metaphysical thinking, providing a model for a process of unceasing mediation beyond fixed identities and stable border lines. Derived from concrete literary and linguistic practice, the notion has taken on an overburdened role, seemingly resolving any problem from universality to transnational subjectivities, obsessively translating political and social processes into cultural ones.

The inflationary use of the concept has concealed the radical consequences that a practical implementation of cultural translation would have for the realm of national culture, which is based on constructing exclusive national canons, national systems of education, and thus national cultural elites, which are firmly entrenched in the stable material conditions that support them. Any real attempt to promote cultural translation would invariably change a system in which global culture is the result of the addition of national ones. The constituencies of cultural translation have been identified by Etienne Balibar as cosmopolitans and migrants or other groups, which are not supported by the traditional infrastructure of national culture or by the political structure of the nation state; but is there any concrete sphere of social or political articulation today for them?  Where would that sphere be located? Along which positive categories would it have to be conceived of, and by what kind of practices would it have to be promoted? Is cultural translation a way of unfolding difference rather than managing it? What practical consequences does it have for working in a transnational framework?

The project follows these questions along four thematic strands: critique of culturalisation, processes of social recomposition, beyond postcolonialism: the production of the global common, practices of multilinguality vs. national language-policies

Hito Steyerl: translate. Beyond Culture: The Politics of Translation

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