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A little bit further down and to the side

16.01.2023 to 17.01.2023 - Tanzquartier Wien

A little bit further down and to the side


Skizze für eine Hörpartitur, nach einer von Virginie Bobin und Marianne Mispelaëre im Rahmen des Workshops Les invisibles erdachten Partitur, Le Crédac, 2022 Skizze für eine Hörpartitur, nach einer von Virginie Bobin und Marianne Mispelaëre im Rahmen des Workshops Les invisibles erdachten Partitur, Le Crédac, 2022

Previous dates

tue, 17.01.2023
10.00 h - 13.00 h
mo, 16.01.2023
17.00 h - 19.00 h

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How (Not) to Disappear in Translation

"Interpreters are not used to speaking in their own name: it’s a professional tic."
"The interpreter disappears. Disappearing is just her expertise, her value."
"I am not here. I must be invisible. It allows me to keep a certain distance."

As part of broader research on political and affective practices of translation, Virginie Bobin has been engaging in conversations with professional and volunteer interpreters working alongside people who have requested political asylum in France. In the framework of asylum rights, interpreters are exposed daily to stories of violence, which they are charged to render intelligible to the French administration. They operate at the intersection of two regimes of truth: the storyteller’s truth, which often ‘overflows the boundaries of patriarchal time and truth’ (Trinh T. Minh-ha); and the legal ears that evaluate her story according to specific criteria of credibility and evidence, in order to grant – or refuse – her access to a series of rights. Caught in between, interpreters are expected to maintain strict neutrality, i. e. to "disappear", a verb often recurring in the conversations. In reaction to this impossible demand, some of them explain that they learned to consider their interventions as a performance, as role play. Yet, when interpreters speak in their own name, what rather seems to emerge is a "performance of witnessing" (Amber Jamila Musser), which exposes the mechanisms of power at play in the State management of exile.

During two workshops, Virginie Bobin invites participants to experiment with various modalities of reading, voicing, listening, and scoring around a script composed of excerpts from her conversations with interpreters. The script emphasises different relational, ethical, and political aspects of what occurs when translation intervenes to mediate and complicate processes of storytelling, witnessing and listening within the codified space of the law. The workshops will attempt to craft a space for listening together in-between the lines – to what has been silenced, unsaid or untranslated. By testing different ways of interpreting the script, we will consider how an affected practice of translation may elicit a more caring attunement to "impossible stories" (Saidiya Hartman) and refuse neutrality and disappearance.

Tanzquartier Wien

opening hours

mo-fri:9 – 19.30h
sat:10 – 19.30h


Tanzquartier Wien GmbH
Museumsplatz 1, A-1070 Wien
Tel.: +43-1-581 35 91


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