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The ineffable joys of enumeration [yagan] originates from my research around literature and text in the visual arts, particularly addressing the issue of the adjustment of meaning in translation between languages. This takes up what I had done at the International Symposium on “Art in-Situ Art-Nature” in Quebec, Canada, in 2013, and incorporates the recent experiences of my participation in the «Dialogues» projects, which have dealt with the issue of interculturality and recognition of the native peoples in Chile.

The text worked here corresponds to a fragment of the book Penser / Classer by French writer Georges Perec, whose literary production I have studied for more than 15 years. This deals with the contradiction that arises between our permanent attempt to classify and enumerate everything, and the failure that this impossible mission always entails. Its theme responds to rather Western concerns regarding our need for order, however, I have found it a great challenge to seek some remote correspondence with these in the worldviews, cultures and languages ​​of the native peoples; in this case, in the Yagán.


note on this yagán translation

To fulfill this translation of Perec’s text into Yagán, the 1987 edition of the “Yámana – English Dictionary” by the Rev. Thomas Bridges (1842-1899), first published in 1933 with the collaboration of the priest and ethnologist Martín Guisinde, was used. Strictly speaking, the dictionary is a transcription of the manual work developed by Brigdes, who used the English phonetic alphabet to write and define sounds of the Yagán language. The dictionary contains Yagán language terms defined in English, set out in non-alphabetical order, but by sounds.

Counting only on this material and considering that we were working with an almost extinct language, the translation methodology used to create these works was a very particular one. In the first place, it had to be assumed that it would not be a translation like so many others, since it would not be possible to have a complete paragraph in Yagán, but only some key concepts from the original text. Then, once chosen, the almost complete reading of the mentioned dictionary was carried out, looking for Yagán (or Yámana) words, the definition of which coincided as closely as possible with the idea contained in the former. Thus, the 5 concepts of the works were reached, which were then made with felt letters in Santiago, traveled to Navarino Island, and were photographed in the Omora Ethnobotanical Park.


Captions of the pieces

 

[iswēa-pöna]
(a- w. s.) To be contrary, obstinate, cross.
Digital photography on Diasec system; 31 x 55 cm cada una
2020
*translation of “dos tentaciones contradictorias”, “two contradictory temptations”, “deux tentations contradictoires”

[ūis-ata]
tr. To cut off a piece. To finish cutting up a piece.
Digital photography on Diasec system; 42 x 56 cm
2020
*translation for “dejar algo afuera”, “to leave something out”, “d’oublier tout de même”

[ūunna~möna]
tr. To seek, to search for, or after. To walk about looking for.
Digital photography on Diasec system; 31 x 45 cm cada una
2020
*translation for “seek”, “voudrait”, en “seek to close…”, “voudrait clôturer…” ausente en la traducción al español

[ūawānūnata]
i. To be determined, resolute, self-willed. To act resolutely.
Digital photography on Diasec system; 35 x 60 cm
2020
*translation for “cerrar definitivamente la cuestión”, “seek to close the question forever”, “voudrait clôturer définitivement la question”

[ūūkūmöni]
tr. To lessen what is in a vessel till it is half full. To leave half full.
Digital photography on Diasec system; 32 x 25 cm cada una
2020
*translation for “inconcluso”, “incomplete”, “l’inachevé”

exhibited in

The ineffable joys of enumeration [yagán]

13 March - 13 April 2020

Solo show at La Galería, Punta Arenas, Chile


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  1. © 2020 monica bengoa

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