NYU hosts Indocumentales screenings in November

 

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The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies NYU, Cinema Tropical, and the World Council of Peoplesfor the United Nations / What Moves You?, will host the latest installation of  “INDOCUMENTALES: A Film and Conversation Series Exploring Latin American Migrant Experiences in the United States,” on Thurs., Nov. 15 and Tues., Nov. 27 6-9pm, at NYU’s King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center’s auditorium (53 Washington Square South.

INDOCUMENTALES will include a Nov. 15 screening of David Riker’s critically acclaimed “La Ciudad” (1998), followed on Nov. 27 by Jim McKay’s most recent feature, “En El Séptimo Día” (2018).

Twenty years between their releases, the films nevertheless employ similar narrative structures and production models: both are filmed on location in New York, in Spanish, with primarily non-professional actors. Both films speak to the struggle of newly arrived Latin American migrants for survival, respect, and meaning in unfamiliar territories.

Both screenings are followed by panel discussions meant to bring together filmmakers, scholars, activists, policy makers, and community representatives. The discussion will be conducted in English.

“La Ciudad” (David Riker, 1998, 88 min. In Spanish, English, and Korean with English subtitles)

LaCiudad

Four gritty stories chronicle the Latino immigrant experience in New York City. In the first, desperate day laborers risk their lives working in unsafe conditions for low pay. Then, newcomer Francisco (Cipriano Garcia) gets a respite from loneliness when he meets a kindhearted woman. Next, homeless puppeteer Luis (Jose Rabelo) battles bureaucracy to register his daughter for school. Finally, garment worker Ana (Silvia Goiz) struggles for the paycheck that could save her sick daughter’s life.

Trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0E0gXl-oGWw

“En El Septimo Dia” (Jim McKay, 2018, 92 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)

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En el Séptimo Día is a fiction feature following a group of undocumented immigrants living in Sunset Park, Brooklyn over the course of seven days. Bicycle delivery guys, construction workers, dishwashers, deli workers, and cotton candy vendors, they work long hours six days a week and then savor their day of rest on Sundays on the soccer fields of Sunset Park. José, a bicycle delivery worker, is the team’s captain – young, talented, hardworking and responsible. When José’s team makes it to the finals, he and his teammates are thrilled. But his boss throws a wrench into the celebration when he tells José he has to work on Sunday, the day of the finals. José tries to reason with his boss or replace himself, but his efforts fail. If he doesn’t work on Sunday, his job and his future will be on the line. But if he doesn’t stand up for himself and his teammates, his dignity will be crushed. Shot in the neighborhoods of Sunset Park, Park Slope, and Gowanus, En el Séptimo Día is a humane, sensitive, and humorous window into a world rarely seen. The film’s impact is made quietly, with restraint and respect for the individual experiences, everyday challenges, and small triumphs of its characters.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYg3mAJTWSE

 

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CLACS continues “Latin America’s 1968” series with Tropicália legend Tom Zé

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In Latin America, 1968 marked the apogee of the social, political, and cultural transformations that had been unfolding in the wake of the 1959 Cuban Revolution. To mark the 50th anniversary of this momentous year, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) offers a film and lecture series that will explore and celebrate its significance in the region.

The first two events of the series focused on cinema, featuring screenings of new films by the Argentine director Albertina Carri and the Chilean director Javier Correa. 

On November 5th, CLACS will host a public dialogue with the Brazilian musician and composer Tom Zé, a foundational figure of Tropicália movement of 1968, a brief but powerful movement in music, theatre, film, and visual art. Known for his juxtaposition of avant-garde poetics and popular music, Zé’s music and performance is steeped in irony and social critique. Having launched his career with Tropicália, he fell from public view as he continued to develop more experimental pop music. In the 1990s, he regained international visibility with the release of a compilation of his work from the 70s and two innovative albums featuring new material. He continues to perform and lives in São Paulo. Tom Zé will be in conversation with professor Christopher Dunn of Tulane University, the leading scholar of Tropicália and Brazilian culture of the 1960s and 70s.

Events are held at NYU’s King Juan Carlos Center, 53 Washington Square South, at 6:30PM. Advance tickets are available and are required for entry.

Map and territory: LIFE TRANSLATED FOR OTHERS (3)

by Santiago Barcaza S.

When the Nobel Prize was given to Beckett, the Swedish Academy considered the set of its texts in English and French as a single work and at the award ceremony, its dedication to “one man, two languages ​​and a third nation” [ Ireland]”.

Beckett is the self-translator who has received more attention and more studies have been done since he was the first to arouse interest in self-translation as a subject of study (Cohn, 1961). The anecdote is the following: the impossibility of finding an English publisher for his texts, considered at the time as untranslatable, caused the author to translate into French his work Murphy, written in English and published in 1938. From 1946, Beckett writes only in French, something that is quite difficult for him, and he translates himself into English. The recognition comes in 1953, year of the appearance of En attendant Godot and Trilogie. The self-translation into English of the first, Waiting for Godot, appears a year later, in 1954, when it is reconciled with the English language. From that moment on, he continues writing in both languages ​​and exchanging the directions of the self-translation.

By the way, to the question, why self-translate? It is not difficult to understand the eagerness of authors like Tagore or Beckett to reach more readers, to ambition as soon as possible a place in the history of universal literature. But there is also another literature. There is a literature that comes from the bosom of cultures that resist extinction, languages ​​that do not give ground to the languages ​​of the colonizers.

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The poet Odi Gonzales

I held a conversation with Odi Gonzales (Cuzco, 1961), poet, translator, self-translator, professor and researcher at NYU, where among other topics we spoke about the Quechua language and its resistance. Here are some fragments of that conversation:

“In a language in danger of extinction, the passage of time will always generate profits and losses. For example, the advent of technological devices and the Internet allow you to communicate with monolingual children from a rural school in the Andes and record the conversation; or make documentaries, movies, photography, etcetera. These records are documents that will not be deleted, they will survive the speakers themselves. That is a gain. But at the same time, these media, with hegemony in Castilian or English, are undermining the speech of monolinguals or bilinguals, who tend to use more the acquired language, to incorporate neologisms into their lexicon”.

And with regard to the orality of the Quechua language, he tells us:

“For example, in the Quechua oral stories, there is no omniscient narrator, since that would make the story implausible: the narrator can not be in two places at once, or know what his characters think. On the other hand, in writing [in the dominant language], the omniscient narrator is crucial, indispensable. Likewise, we believed that Joyce had invented the interior monologue in Ulysses, that paradigm of the modern novel. But the truth is that internal monologue is common practice of oral languages. In Quechua, it is configured exclusively with the pronoun us (ñoqayku), which involves the narrator and his immediate surroundings. The poet speaks for himself and for his own, not for others. The great difference between the interior monologue of a foxs tale and that of Ulysses, is the extension. By its nature, the inner monologue of an oral story is short, precise and concrete, composed only a sentence or two. Instead, Bloom’s inner monologue is a 42-page stream”.

(You can check the complete interview in Spanish here)

With Quechua, Odi talks to us about a kind of oraliture (?). The translations come and go, from the first to the second language and vice versa, and in the turns the words are polished together like stones. As explained by Odi, oral literature as an artistic expression of the Andean cosmovision, marks a cultural continuity between what has been and what it is today. Authors who live in communities and in cities, who permanently travel the path between both spaces. Making their lives territory of coexistence and conflict: between tradition and modernity, between the community and the individual, between the original language and the imposed language. But at the same time, translating, or rather self-translating, the complex message that is transmitted from the oral to the written, and vice versa. Because after all, how do you create a literature that is not written?

Map and territory. A fictitious and real construction at the same time, by authors descendants of peoples and subjugated cultures. A fiction that delimits a territory with diffuse borders, with authors whose mother tongue is the dominant one, but who possess the strength to fulfill the mission of not turning their back on their ancestors.

In the next installment, we will approach the work of Mapuche poets, from the Kenyan Ngugi Wa Thiong’o and we will follow the dialogue with Rodrigo Rojas.

Chilean Popular Poetry and Biblical Psalms (II)

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Central Valley of Chile

by Fernanda Martinez Varela, MA scholar at MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish. 

 

RESULTS

Similarities

a) Context of use

Some psalms and a particular type of the Cantus to the divine have its use in ceremonies and community celebrations. The Cantus to the divine based on the “Angel’s farewell” refers to those songs that are performed after the death of a baby during his wake in order to alleviate the sadness of the parents through singing. It is a celebration because is assumed that the boy or girl will go directly to heaven since he or she is free from sin. On the other hand, in biblical psalms we can find some texts that have their use in ceremonies and feasts. Psalms 114, 115, 116, 117, 135 have their use during Easter; psalm 118 during the Pentecost; psalm 47 during the New Year… This resemblance may be due to the fact that both songs are connected by their ritual nature, which, according to the RAE, is related to ceremonies by custom that are performed with a sacred character. In the case of “Angel’s farewell”, the passage from life to death; in the psalms, in general, the festivities highlighted by Christianity.

b) Past and present

The tradition that is updated in those who pray or sing is important in both discourses. In the Cantus to the divine is the tradition that contributes to knowledge, since the songs are transmitted from generation to generation, but is also the tradition updated in the singers according to the situation where the enunciation takes place. For example, in the “Angel’s farewell” the song is updated to comfort the mother who suffers because the death of her son/daughter; the mother is named, the guests are greeted, etc. On the other hand, in the biblical psalms, is the man´s experience with god what is transmitted to the next generation but it is also updated because is the prayer who shares from his present the experience transmitted by the text. Thus, both come together in a common religious feeling. Regarding the above, Collin (1997) writes: “El salmo es un poema bíblico, es decir, un instrumento para recordar la tradición de un pueblo; es un instrumento que todo usuario recibe y que debe tomar en la mano y agarrarlo con fuerza” (p.7).

Map and territory: LIFE TRANSLATED FOR OTHERS (2)

by Santiago Barcaza S.

Without wanting to dwell too much on certain aspects proposed by the academy, I am surprised that there are two currents of thought: one that regards self-translation as an unusual phenomenon, a marginal activity and another one that supports the opposite. I will not use this space to delve into one or the other. I agree with the outstanding researcher of translation studies Julio César Santoyo, when he says:

Seen the seen, one can not help but wonder: can we continue talking about the self-translation as a phenomenon ‘rather weird’ or ´exceptional´? We are not faced with rare exceptions but before an immense corpus, increasingly of texts translated by their own creators. Far from being a ‘marginal case’, the author’s translation has a long history and is today one of the most frequent and important cultural, linguistic and literary phenomena in our global village, and certainly deserves much more attention from which has been borrowed so far“.

In fact, the first known self-translator is the jewish historian Flavius ​​Josephus, who in 75 AD wrote in Aramaic, his mother tongue, the seven books of his first work, The War of the Jews, to later revise it and translate it to the Greek. From then until today, self-translation is a common practice. They form a group so broad and so diverse that it is impossible to list them all. However, as a sample, I quote a short selection: Fray Luis de León, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Stéphane Mallarmé, Samuel Beckett, Joseph Brodsky, Vladimir Nabokov, José María Arguedas, Milan Kundera, et cetera. However, addressing the self-translation in one of these authors runs the risk of falling into exceptional particularities and the preparation of a rather monographic study. Nobody doubts the fact that these authors are interesting, but that some are paradigmatic, as to help understand or illuminate the act of self-translation – for example, of poets of indigenous origin in southern America- is perhaps another issue. So, I wonder what is really the self-translation? why? And for what?

In an article published in 2011, the researcher of the University of the Cape in South Africa, Maria Recuenco, explains that in countries or multilingual societies, the step of self-translation, from a language called “regional” to the official language of State or dominant language, is as logical as it is complicated. A clear example of this is Belgium, a traditionally fertile territory for linguistic contact between Flemish and French, and which has a significant number of bilingual authors.

To talk about this, I met with the Chilean poet, academic and researcher Rodrigo Rojas (Lima, 1971), MFA from the New York University, and author of the book La Lengua Escorada(2009, Pehuen Editores), where he discusses the literature produced by four authors of Mapuche descent, and recognizes the complexity of its bilengual nature not so much because of its fluency in the use of mapudungun or spanish, but rather because of the cosmopolitan and multicultural scene in which they develop their literary work.

Neruda and Tagore

Neruda and Tagore, a curious link

A paradigmatic example for Rodrigo, which will help us approach the subject of this essay with determination, is that of the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore (Calcutta, 1861 – 1941). In fact, Tagore is excellent at exemplifying how the use of another language (English), a culturally dominant language since those years, earned him many benefits.

“He gets to win the Nobel Prize –he says– very soon after he has translated his own poems. And he does this by putting them in tune with the cultural expectations of the England of his time, which even leads him to transform his own poetry. However, after the First World War, the political landscape changes completely in Europe. The thought and the european imagination isfaced with the fact that its own idea of ​​civilization was able to generate such level of death that drastically changes its sensitivity and also changes aesthetics. There begins the advent of the vanguards, with which the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore in English is quickly forgotten because it is identified with the previous Victorian aesthetic. So, it’s interesting to stop there: how fruit of the self-translation, he could earn a lot and at the same time, lose so much. However, many theorists of India today speak about the legacy of Rabindranath Tagore and show how his poetry is still valid, beyond the world wars, accompanying the Hindu literary canon as a result of a series of changes that go beyond the independence of India or the advent of the communist party. This is a sign that we are facing a poetry much less attached to fashion than can perceive in your self-translations into English.

But Tagore in Chile is also known for being whom Neruda would have stolen some verses …

That is interesting because being Tagore the author of the texts that Neruda plagiarized is valid to ask how did Tagore come to the hands of Neruda? What versions and what translations? It is true, he was a Nobel, but how many spanish versions were there? It is known that the wife of the poet Juan Ramón Jiménez, Zenobia Camprubí, had translated and published Tagore in Spain. But in Chile, another person had also done translations of Tagore and they were translations in prose, not verse. This is Gabriela Mistral, who had also translated the French symbolists, and so on. It is much more likely that Neruda had met Tagore in those interviews he had in Temuco with the director of the Girls’ Lyceum, which at that time was Gabriela Mistral. She must have taught him these world poets to open his head. So it seems very interesting to me how this Tagore, who betrays himself to be accepted in the English literary medium, in a sort of self-exoticise by the Victorian sensibility and who gets the Nobel for that, then falls into oblivion. But it turns out that here, in Latin America, once translated, again, but from its own self-translated translation of little value in the Anglo-Saxon world, it comes alive again, but in an underground way, because of the accusation of plagiarism with which Pablo Neruda is accused.

In the next installments, I will talk with Odi Gonzales about oral language and written language and we will continue talking with Rodrigo Rojas, we will confront his theory with that of other researchers and we will review some case studies of poets of indigenous Latin American origin and other recognized poets in the western world.

The Heart of the Andes, Landscape and Art in Bogotá Before and After Alexander von Humboldt

Posted by Natalia Aguilar Vasquez – PhD Student at NYU Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literature

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Art gallery and cultural space FLORA ars+natura in Bogota, Colombia. First day of the curatorial workshop by Miguel A. Lopez, July 30th 2018.

My research interests were, initially, the intersections between contemporary art and recent literature in Colombia, specially focused on ways of representing violence, memory, and trauma in the Colombian society and the bodies. That research shifted, and instead of dealing only with bodies and Biopolitics as critical lenses to understand such aesthetics, I noticed a “return” or, as many would say, an always latent concern with “the land”, the politics of creating landscapes and, most importantly, the spatial dimension of the Colombian internal war and conflict.

I started a journey visiting art galleries in Bogotá, new spaces for art and culture in the city. The “return” and reincorporation of landscape was visible in several exhibitions coming from young artists, but also in the creation of new spaces for culture in the city. Hybrid locations, a mix of gallery, research centers, and incubators for artistic projects. The question of physical boundaries, personal and public/political space, as well as the ambivalent relation between the urban and the rural, are crucial to imagine and live, in the so-called “post-conflict” Colombia.

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Sergio Mondragón and Collaborative Translation

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Zane Koss and Sergio Mondragón on June 11, 2018.

 

Posted by Zane Koss – PhD Candidate in English Literature at NYU

On June 11th, I had the pleasure of meeting with Sergio Mondragón in the Coyoacán neighbourhood of Mexico City. My dissertation focuses on Mexican and Canadian poetry in the 1960s and 1970s, searching for meaningful connections between poets and means of reading comparatively that are able to situate these poets both within their own complex national contexts and within broader transnational poetic movements. From 1962 to 1969, Mondragón co-edited and co-published El corno emplumado / The Plumed Horn, a bilingual magazine of poetry and the arts in Mexico City with Margaret Randall, a young poet who had recently arrived in Mexico from New York. The magazine was a flashpoint of transnational literary and cultural exchange, publishing young and established poets from across the Americas, translated into both Spanish and English whenever possible. Our conversation that day covered a wide array of subjects, but – as the sprightly 82-year-old warned me beforehand – his memories of the 1960s were “borrosos o entremezclados.”

The day after our meeting, I received an unexpected phone call from Sergio. At his request, I had sent him a couple of my own poems, and he wanted to return his compliments by inviting me for a meal at his home in the hills west of Coyoacán and San Ángel. When I had asked Sergio about the work he performed translating the Canadian poet George Bowering’s 1964 book of poems, The Man in the Yellow Boots / El hombre de las botas amarillas – published as the sixteenth issue of El corno – he had quickly pointed out that Margaret Randall, who edited magazine’s English-language portions, had likely done most of the work in selecting poems and corresponding with Bowering. He insisted further that she had probably helped extensively with the translations. I failed to register the full importance of this comment at the time, considering it more of a polite nudge from Sergio to redirect my inquiries to Randall. But visiting Sergio in his home revealed the deeper truth of his statement.

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