Finding power in (not providing) translation

‘James Nguyen: Open Glossary’ considers the nuances of translation and being multilingual. What happens when we shift the dynamics of ‘understanding’?
translation. image is of pink Indonesian text embroidered on a white background.

Translation can be a necessity, but it can also be an act of generosity and, ultimately, knowledge sharing. The intricacy and complexities of interlingual translation is often not apparent to those who do not rely on it, but James Nguyen: Open Glossary at ACCA lays bare this process – one that is collaborative, evolving, incomplete and, often, imperfect.

Presented as part of the Copyright Agency Partnerships commissions and created in collaboration with Tamsen Hopkinson (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Pāhauwera), Budi Sudarto, Kate ten Buuren (Taungurung) and Chris Xu, the project seeks to bridge communication and understanding. As an exhibition, Open Glossary features three main installations that feel sparse and meditative. Moments of stillness are purposefully allocated to listen, comprehend and digest information presented in Vietnamese, English, Simplified Chinese, Korean, Cook Islands Māori, Sinhala and more.

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Celina Lei is an arts writer and editor at ArtsHub. She acquired her M.A in Art, Law and Business in New York with a B.A. in Art History and Philosophy from the University of Melbourne. She has previously worked across global art hubs in Beijing, Hong Kong and New York in both the commercial art sector and art criticism. She took part in drafting NAVA’s revised Code of Practice - Art Fairs and was the project manager of ArtsHub’s diverse writers initiative, Amplify Collective. Celina is based in Naarm/Melbourne. Instagram @lleizy_