14 January 2012
Language Connections Takes on Unique Challenge of Translating Political Art
Language Connections Takes on Unique Challenge
of Translating Political Art
By Sarah Baiz
The Institute of Modern Russia recently sponsored a photographic portrait exhibition entitled “Russian Visionaries. Into the Light.” The exhibition, organized and curated by Elena Khodorkovskya, featured the portraits of 54 contemporary Russian opposition leaders taken by Kirill Nikitenko alongside their reflections on the future of Russia. This exhibition is the first time that various opposition leaders from such diverse backgrounds came together in a public space to express their views.
Each photograph portrays the face of a prominent Russian writer, actor, journalist, scientist, economist, politician, or human rights activist in austere black and white. Exhibited alongside each portrait was a short biography of the person photographed and their prediction of how the future will be if Vladimir Putin remains in power. The texts were available in both the original Russian and in English – with the translations provided by Language Connections, a Boston-based translation firm with experience in translation in numerous fields.
Language Connections organized a team of three translators for the exhibition. According to the Project Manager for the exhibition, it was a challenge to allow the voice of each of the diverse activists to shine through in the English:
“It was a fascinating challenge to manage the translations for the exhibition. Usually when we proofread the translations, we take special care that the same writing style is used by the translators for all of the documents, but in this case there were several different authors who had written these texts, and changing the different styles in the texts would have destroyed the individual character that each text had. So trying to keep the style the same in the English as it was in the Russian original and not adapting the styles to one single style fitted to the audience was difficult, but at the same time very necessary. This is hard for a translator or proofreader to do, as we always have a preferred writing style or choice of words, especially once we know who our audience is going to be. It was an unusual, but refreshing, assignment!”
Each of the activists represented in the exhibition are known for their strong, independent views and opposition to the current political regime. The activists, who include Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Garry Kasparov, Mikhail Yefremov, Lyudmila Ulitskaya, Alexei Navalny, Yevgeny Yasin, Lyudmila Alekseeva, Boris Akunin, and Mikhail Kasyanov, among many others, were all interviewed regarding their predictions for Russia after the 2012 elections. The goal of the project is to show that there are people besides the formal political opposition who see the country’s future in a different way than how the official propaganda depicts it. These portraits, along with the associated vision of the future, represent a historical record – both a tangible image of these Russian activists at a point in time when important changes are occurring, as well as the story behind the photos.
The exhibition in New York drew thousands of visitors to the gallery and elicited an overwhelming response. A number of the portraits and the accompanying text are available online. The exhibition has since moved to Moscow, where it will be shown at the Fotoloft Gallery in Winzavod starting February 9th.
Language Connections is a multi-lingual translation agency which specializes in legal, pharmaceutical, medical, and technical translations for corporate and government clients. Contact them at the coordinates below.
2001 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02135
Tel.: (617) 731-3510 Fax: (617) 731-3700