With each passing year, humanity is becoming ever more interconnected, and the pandemic provides clear confirmation of this fact. This process raises more and more questions about the nature of global society. What language is best suited for use in navigating the global space? How to find a way to communicate on an equal footing with Others? Is it possible to learn how to talk about difficult issues in the histories of peoples associated with traumatic collective experiences? How should we get to know another culture, feel compassion or become part of a political struggle? "Seeing Between the Lines" is an online film screening programme of works that address these questions in an attempt to feel around for a platform for dialogue and exchange.
"In any language and linguistic creations there remains in addition to what can be conveyed something that cannot be communicated", as the German philosopher Walter Benjamin wrote in his 1921 essay The Translator's Task. But there is no condemnation in these words. On the contrary, Benjamin believed that the global languages "are not strangers to one another" and are "apart from all historical relationships, interrelated in what they want to express". He connected the translator's task not so much with the literal reproduction of meaning, but with the search for such an intermediate space in which the original would be brought back to life, flourish and be made richer, and the native language, under the influence of a foreign idiom, expands its own boundaries. In order to discover this space, the translator's intention must be directed towards the "integrating many tongues into one true language".
Benjamin's ideas influenced postcolonial theory and were further developed at the end of the 20th century by the American researcher of Indian origins Homi Bhabha in his theory of cultural difference. He rejected the logic of the diversity of predetermined static cultures in a homogeneous space. As with languages in Benjamin, culture, nation or ethnos, according to Baba, are always mobile and manifest themselves in the act of utterance, i.e. through words, speech, or images. It follows from this that resistance to the colonial regime may be understood as a negotiated process: "Cultural difference marks the establishment of new forms of meaning, and strategies of identification, through processes of negotiation where no discursive authority can be established without revealing the difference of itself." From Homi Bhabha's point of view, translation contains space for dissent and dialogue, as well as the potential for the renewal of culture.
In addition to its linguistic meaning, the word "translation" or perevod has another meaning in Russian, also associated with a certain degree of movement. We refer here to both space and society (transferring money to another country or an employee to a new position), as well as to time (referring to the sezonny perevod, literally "seasonal translation", otherwise known as "daylight savings time", or else to switching between different geographical time zones). But it seems that in the field of these connotations, the practice of translation can also lead to that third intermediate space, within which something new can arise in the process of negotiation or comparison. The skill of the translator lies in his ability to see with eyes other than his own and grasp the elusive flow of life. It remains an open question as to how such a skill is to be learnt on the everyday level. Might study not be required for this at all, but rather that we unlearn instead?
The experimental films comprising the programme touch upon, either directly or implicitly, the concepts of (cultural) translation and its visual representation, as well as issues of postcolonial knowledge.
The order in which to watch them is left to the discretion of the viewer.