The Artist as Translator

Waldmeier, Martin. 2016. The Artist as Translator. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis project explores an artist figure that has risen to prominence in the context of the art world’s growing global interconnectedness: the figure of the (cultural) translator who shifts between multiple cultural and linguistic zones, speaking between them. In order to approach this figure I map out the international art world and its institutions as places marked by linguistic operations and acts of cross-cultural address, arguing that the translatability of an artist’s work is key to its circulation within an expanding international circuit. I argue that the translator figure can be viewed as a response to the demands posed by institutional politics of diversity, neoliberal economics of cultural circulation, as well as the changing roles of art as a global medium — with artists becoming cross-cultural public intellectuals and commentators. In dialogue with selected artistic practices and their specific contexts (Nicoline van Harskamp, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Walid Raad, Rabih Mroué, Dilek Winchester and others) and drawing from translation studies (especially Naoki Sakai’s notion of translation not as a binary activity but as a relational practice and form of address), I explore the various intellectual, artistic, and critical potentialities immanent to the role of the translator, and argue for translation to be developed as a form of critical cross-cultural authorship in the field of international contemporary art.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


art, language, translation, globalisation, International Exhibition Culture, biennials, cultural diversity, performance, International Art English, Creolization, hybridity, art school, art criticism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

10 Feb 2017 14:23

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 11:46


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