The Task of the Translator

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SJSU MFA Exhibition: The Task of the Translator
Hosted by Incline Gallery
The Task of The Translator refers to an essay in which the early 20th century German Jewish philosopher Walter Benjamin analyzes the role of the maker in the world, the content produced, and the potential dialogues that become manifest, created from a will to convey an idea or image. He goes further to contend that translation is an art in and of itself, an act “distinct and clearly differentiated from the task of the poet.” We’re inclined to agree with him and would contend that the validity of his argument is most firmly felt in the visual arts, a realm where literality holds almost no sway and negotiation is constant. However, a question immediately arises: Who is the translator? Is it the artist, bringing their perceptions, impulses, and emotions to bear and altering them through material and conceptual means? Is it the curator, finding linkages and making connections between works and practices, weaving a larger narrative  from individuated fragments? Or is it the viewer, receiving the work and turning it into a message by adapting it to their own history?
Opening reception: Friday April 20 6-9pm
Exhibition Dates: Friday April 20 – Sun May 6
Curated by Chris Grunder & Clea Massiani, Co-Directors of Bass & Reiner, San Francisco
The job of the curator is typically to establish an ideology through art. This can often be a complex operation under the most ideal of circumstances, but when the group of artists has been predefined, it can become easy to force false narratives and artificial constraints. In this instance however, no such problem presented itself. In spite of working in close and constant proximity the artists have managed to maintain their own voices and directions, translating their particular visions. They have done this so clearly in fact as to make their individuality the prevailing theme. Our hope as curators is that this will provide ample room for the audience to fully experience the exhibition and find their own interpretation while doing so.
Participating Artists:
Baharak Khaleghi
Carmina Eliason
Christian Mora
Karen Amiel
Lisa Teng
Mike Battey
Miniami Oya
Nik Radford
Rachel Ashman
Rhianna Gallagher
Volga Solak
While analyzing their work and practices, it becomes apparent that these are individuals committed to creating with purpose. As a group, they all experience empathetic urges, leading them to generate for the sake of others as much as for themselves. This all happens in highly personal ways and with a variety of issues at stake. While themes of changing gender dynamics, cultural critique, environmentalism, and the fundamentals of perception are foregrounded and connect the artists, they are rooted in their individual tasks; whether communicating, conveying, or calling into question.