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The Translation

Basak Senova
artists: Chto Delat
screening: Wael Shawky
venue: Cabaret Voltaire
coordinates: Zurich, 2013
website: http://www.cabaretvoltaire.ch

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February, 5th, 2013 Book Launch:  The Translation, Edited by Adrian Notz and Basak Senova
February, 5th, 2013 Screening: Cabaret Crusades: The Horror Show Fileby Wael Shawky
February, 7th, 2013 Exhibition: The Tower: A Songspiel, by Chto Delat

Tracing the reaction of Dada towards the horrors of war, The Translation project is a modest attempt to find correspondences in current parallel issues, detected and processed by contemporary artists with different realities and perspectives, who come from and work in different geographies. As this brief description aims to indicate, the focus of the project revolves around ideas of the responses to the axiomatic suppressions of all kinds, rather than as a blunt adjunct to the similar aesthetic and political tendencies of Dada. In the sea of ever-changing conditions of multiple realities, there is no single or homogenous approach, but diversity of resisting mechanisms and artistic strategies. Therefore, translation as a term and as a tool generates plenty of potential fields for art production in disconnected trajectories. Furthermore, these fields have the capability to cover, and/or fuse with, other fields of knowledge.

In the context of The Translation project, Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich hosts the screening of Cabaret Crusades: The Horror Show File, (2010) by Wael Shawky, followed by an exhibition, which presents The Tower: A Songspiel, (2010) by Chto Delat?. Both Cabaret Crusades: The Horror Show File and The Tower: A Songspiel, process the patterns of legitimization and horror of the war as the consequences of power struggles. While detecting these patterns, they reveal diverse realities which, are closely linked to the conditions of their geographies along with the perception modes of history, culture, religion, and power. These works also facilitate common visual strategies, such as the accumulated usage of visual rhetoric, black humor, and historical references.

The project is accompanied by a book, edited by Adrian Notz, the director of Cabaret Voltaire, and Basak Senova, the curator of the project, which consists of a set of conversations among the actors of the project . These conversations elaborate array of issues that the project tries to detect, underline, and discuss. .


On Spatial Design
Setting The Translation at Cabaret Voltaire

The word cabaret originates from the Middle French and the Middle Dutch dialects as alteration of cambret, cameret, or camberete meaning a small room, and also from the Late Latin as a synonym of the word camera used to mean chamber[1]. The association between the origin of the word and the architectural qualities of the cellar of Cabaret Voltaire –the gallery space of the building- suggested a tangible connection for the starting point of the spatial design process. Zurich Dada’s historical activities mainly had visual and performance-based output[2]. By following the nature of those outputs, the spatial design could be incorporated with the tidal positioning of spatial awareness with temporality. Furthermore, the design had to support the theatrical and poetic aspects of the Cabaret Crusades: The Horror Show File and The Tower: A Songspiel.

Embarking on the idea that the gallery space hosts two different events[3]. the spatial design encompasses same elements with subtle differences. The design solutions developed based on imperatives collated by the content of the works along with the architectural specifications and limitations of the space. Accordingly, as the central element of the design, a velvet theatre curtain, which divides the space from the centre and blocks the load bearing column, follows the form of the arch and places emphasis on the curved ceiling. The curtain is two-sided: black and claret red. The black side is used for the screening of Cabaret Crusades: The Horror Show File, and the claret red side, which is identical to the dominant colour used in The Tower: A Songspiel, functions as the background of the screen, placed in front of the curtain during the exhibition. In order to improve the acoustics of the space by absorbing sound over a wide range of frequencies, the floor is covered by dark gray carpet. Two antique theatre chairs are placed in a specific location in the space for the screening and then, relocated to another place during the exhibition. The velvet cushions on the floor complete the design by balancing the colour scheme in the gallery space.



[1] Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cabaret

[2] Pichon, Brigitte and Karl Riha eds. (1996), Dada Zurich: A Clown’s Game from Nothing. New York; London: G.K. Hall; Prentice Hall International, 1996, p.145

[3] “Cabaret Voltaire’s gallery space hosts the screening of Cabaret Crusades: The Horror Show File two days prior to the opening of the exhibition.