Like a book that has been translated so many times that in the end does not render the emotional baggage that the author put into it, the human memory can lose its singularities when comes to the language use. Lost in translation is a two-part installation developed to represent the loss of my mother tongue – Portuguese – in face of my immersion in the English culture (Irish, New Zealander and Canadian) in the past 7 years.
Creating both pieces came from the fact that in order to blend in and assimilate the culture of the countries I have been living in I ended up forgetting or not, even, knowing how some words are translated to Portuguese. During the research process I came across two interesting facts: 1. There is a syndrome that has been studied since the 1980’s called language attrition in which the person who has it start to lose their original spoken language because they are bound to a new culture that they need to understand and use in order to live their daily life, 2. Most translations from Portuguese to English of my favourite authors had lost their emotional impact and the romantic character on translation.
Developing the framed art piece, I was inspired by the words and how I wish I could see the translation process happening; this transition between my own language and the language that I now speak is represented by the cloudiness of the fabrics used and how the words in Portuguese and English overlap themselves. The sculptural dress, had its roots in the Portuguese culture and in the fact that as a period dress it had its glamour in some stage and now just hangs awaiting to be completely destroyed just like the language is changing in my life.
Both pieces are burnt, distressed and have the common element of the quote used and the Portuguese tiling style on its embroidery which, for me, symbolise the past, the history behind who I am and how I became the artist that I am.
The subtle details, the pleasure for the eye in either piece is a punch in the memory of this who now writes as day-to-day I struggle to stay connected to my origins through my language while absorbing all that this language has to offer to me.