Traduttore, Traditore

Curated by Karen Greenwalt and Katja Rivera

Artists: Bani Abidi, Arturo Hernández Alcázar, Carlos Arias, Luis Camnitzer, Alejandro Cesarco, Bethany Collins, Brendan Fernandes, Dora García, Emily Jacir, Katia Kameli, Harold Mendez, Paulo Nazareth, Sherwin Ovid, Michael Rakowitz, Raqs Media Collective, Thamotharampillai Shanaathanan, Edra Soto, and Stephanie Syjuco

Traduttore, Traditore, brings together a group of artists from around the world who employ processes of translation to expose, question, and challenge global circuits of economic and cultural capital. Emerging from the reality that uninhibited travel, communication, and trade are available to a privileged few, the exhibition uses translation as a means of exploring the transformation—of language, customs, currency, and even memory—that occurs when people cross borders. Taken from the Italian aphorism that roughly translates to “translator, traitor,” the title of the exhibition speaks to the misunderstandings, losses, and fragmentation that manifest during this process of exchange.

A groundbreaking exhibition that explores translation beyond its linguistic meaning, Traduttore, Traditore considers the political dynamics of power and infrastructure that influence the movement of people, goods, ideas, and language across borders. It employs a liberal understanding of translation in order to focus on themes of place, migration, nationalism, and identity and to address the tensions that emerge from encounters across time and space. Anchoring the exhibition are three key themes that expand the definition of translation to explore shifts in language, cultural practices, and economic transactions. Shaped by their cultural histories and geographic locations, the artists offer unique perspectives on the difficulties of translation in the so-called global world.

Traduttore, Traditore reveals how contemporary artists navigate and expose issues of difference. The exhibition proposes translation as a method by which to understand contemporary artistic practices, reflecting an inclusive vision of art history. Many of the artists featured in the exhibition, who hail from across the world, have received little exposure in the U.S. Indeed, many of them have never shown in Chicago and several of the works will make their American debut.

Traduttore, Traditore is the pilot exhibition in a new program at Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois to support the production of in-depth exhibitions developed out of the research work of PhD candidates or recent PhD graduates of UIC’s Department of Art History. UIC Art History candidates are in the process of producing significant new scholarship on a wide range of art and cultural practices. Exhibitions developed out of that work bring that new thought to a broader audience, while providing the PhD candidates mentorship in curatorial practice and the opportunity for engaged publishing in exhibition catalogues.