Alessandra Russo: Untranslatable Images?

Silberberg Lecture

Alessandra Russo: Untranslatable Images? Silberberg Lecture | Events Calendar

Upper E Side

The Institute of Fine Arts at NYU | 1 East 78th Street

Alessandra Russo
Associate Professor, Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures
Columbia University

Untranslatable Images?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 6:00 PM
The Institute of Fine Arts
1 East 78th Street
New York City
RSVP required: click here:

Please note that seating in the Lecture Hall is on a first-come, first-served basis with RSVP. There will be a simulcast in an adjacent room to accommodate overflow.

The 2013-2014 Silberberg Lecture Series Theme: Translation
In his seminal essay The Task of the Translator (1923), Walter Benjamin proposed that the "truth-value" of a work of art is revealed only through the act of translation. For Benjamin, an ideal translation is dialogic and transformative rather than prescriptive and formulaic. It constitutes the "afterlife" of a work of art, both acknowledging the changes wrought on the original by the passage of time and allowing the original's mode of signification to impact the culture of the translation itself. Such transformations, Benjamin proclaims, reveal historical processes, just as they preserve that most essential poetic quality of a work least susceptible to literal transcription.

Yet Benjamin also writes that "all translation is only a somewhat provisional way of coming to terms with the foreignness of languages." The translated work—whether visual, textual, or other—signals both presence and absence. In attempting to secure the balance between originality and reproduction, fidelity and invention, something is lost, even as something is gained. Or, as Susan Sontag puts it in Being translated (1997), "translation is about differentness," whether asserted or denied.

The 2013-2014 Silberberg Lecture Series will address the complex role translation plays within the production and interpretation of art—considering how images and objects have been mined and recontextualized across time, space, culture, and medium, as well as exploring the limits of visual communication and literacy in fostering new ways of thinking about appropriation, influence, and audience

For more information on The Daniel H. Silberberg Lectures, click here: