Thursday, January 15, 2004 to Saturday, February 21, 2004

    • Friday, January 16, 2004
    Transliteration employs a historical perspective to examine issues of representation. In these large-scale colour photographs, black subjects are situated within scenarios that paraphrase famous western European paintings, drawing from various works such as Paul Cézanne's An Afternoon In Naples, Degas' "The Bather", Rembrandt's "The Night Watch" and Manet's "Le Dejeuner sur L'herbe". My intention is not to faithfully recreate but to recontextualize. The images bear a contemporary aesthetic and combine diverse elements drawing from hip hop culture, theatre and the language of advertising. These images serve as evocative points of departure rather than coherent answers to wider debates of race. The title alludes to an important aim of the work. It denotes how meaning shifts as mediums, subjects and histories are translated and re-translated. "Transliteration", presents a highly personal response to western European art. A response derived from the necessity to question and encourage different ways of seeing and looking by depicting black subjects in roles traditionally associated with white subjects. --Dawit Petros THE ARTIST AS TRANSLATOR... it is easy for translation to masquerade as a harmless activity in which an honest translator communes with the original author and passes on undistorted the message. In reality, translation in all its forms is frequently the site of a variety of power plays between those involved. Translation in the context of this exhibition, touches upon political and cultural dimensions that concern not only the translations of languages but of cultural contexts between the history of western art and contemporary art in Canada. Since the question of translation has become a politically and culturally crucial question, one could argue that translation can be regarded as a central metaphor for some of the most pressing tasks confronting us in the 21st century. Translation points at how different languages, cultures, artistic and political contexts, can be put together in such a way as to provide for mutual understanding but without having at the same time to sacrifice difference in the interest of assimilation. Petros' work attempts to account for the key points at which construction and manipulation affect the process of translation. The act of translation in this instance, is the work of cross-cultural analysis and interpretation. It requires submerging in another culture and communicating its thought and beauty in a new idiom. It calls on a greater capacity of experience, adaptability and adjustment, as well as an evaluation of intangible values and ideologies. When separated by history and culture, translation seems near impossible; when the languages are so very different, when the cultural contexts also are very different, perhaps the translator must have the kind of freedom of expression which, though purporting to be translation, amounts in fact to explanations... perhaps proposing contemporary scenarios that challenge notions of whiteness, race and interpretation. In the context of this work, representation, paraphrasing, recreation, and re-contextualization become powerful strategies to affirm and contest a Canadian/African identity, proposing in the end a different approach to a portraiture of differences and similarities. --Jessie Lacayo, Curator