August 9, 2019

International Conference “Translating Performance / Performing Translation” EUR ArTeC

December 12-13-14, 2019


The conference will be held in Laboratoires d’Aubervillers, an art center focusing on experimentation and social practices as well as live creation.
Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers

41 Rue Lécuyer, 93300 Aubervilliers

on line 7 of the Parisian métro

Organizing committee

Vincent Broqua (Université Paris 8/ TransCrit), Celia Bense (Université Paris 8/ UMR 7217 CRESPPA), Marie Nadia Karsky (Université Paris 8/ TransCrit), co-porteurs du projet EUR ArTeC « Traduire la performance / performer la traduction », Marion Blondel et Fanny Catteau (UMR 7023 SFL) et Clothilde Roullier (Archives nationales).

Fields: translation and translation studies, performance, poetic performance, theater, performing arts, archives, sociology of performance, creative research

The languages of the conference are: French sign language, English and French

At the end of three years of scientific work and artistic research, the EUR ArTec project “Translating Performance / Performing Translation” is organizing a concluding international conference. Through research methods and research-creation, this research project has questioned what translation does to performance and what performance does to translation in both vocal languages and sign languages.
If translation is indeed performance insofar as, in the words of Arno Renken, translation entails “the event of a foreignness” (“l’événement d’une étrangeté”, Renken 14), then how does performance ask questions about translation and vice versa? We see translation as the production of writing that aims to resolve the contradiction of a relationship between two languages by guiding it in one direction (Meschonnic 1999). Translation is conceived of as a dynamic object resulting from ongoing literary, cultural and social confrontations. For this conference, we will first interpret the word “performance” in an artistic sense. If Sandra Bermann perfectly demonstrated the fruitful intertwining of performance and performativity, if Mieke Bal analyzed the blurring of these two notions, for this conference it will be not so much a question of the performativity of language or of ” ‘performance’ […] defined as all the activity of a given participant on a given occasion which serves to influence in any way any of the participants ” (Goffman 1973), or even of the very broad expansion that Schechner (1988) gives to the word, going from rituals to sports, by way of agency, gender and race. Because these links are now well-established, and without excluding questions of performativity, we have sought to consider art forms in a continuum that ranges from theatrical performance to poetic performance. New ways of practicing translation have gained ground, especially for performance poetry, and the borders between artistic forms end up being called into question, especially since the use of new technologies. A dual transformation ensues: the processes of translation and the place of the translator are affected, creation of the works themselves is disrupted, going so far as to examine questions linked to translators’ and theaters’ archives, that is, to the archive in tension with
the unarchivable.

To put it briefly, first of all, if translation is traditionally still often ancillary and secondary to the play or performance, and if the presence of the translator, the translation and obvious processes of interaction between creation and translation have often been made invisible, new technologies and translation studies have come to muddle received ideas. This consideration is also renewed by research-action in sign language, which comes back to the question of the spatiality of the performance of translation as well as the tension between translation as creation and translation as accessibility, and also the inclusion of collaborative translation processes. These new phenomena, which have been upheld and are the site of lively artistic research into the interaction of disciplines, bring us face to face with a genuine proliferation of possibilities and questions.

This conference therefore proposes to discuss methodologies, writings and disruptions brought about by thought on the encounter between performances. What happens to performance in translation and to the translator as subject? In what way does thought on the interaction between translator and performance create a third object? How are research and creation methodologies in translation and in performance modified?

We anticipate proposals for theoretical and applied contributions as well as creative contributions related, but not limited, to the following subjects:

  • On the subject of sign language and poetic performance, we are interested in translating what the poem or theatrical performance “does” (Meschonic): how are the audience and its potential specificities considered? Is translation conceived of as a way of making the work accessible? Or of recreating it? Or of offering something else?
  • We will also take into account questions about the temporality of translation in performance. How does one stage translation in the sequential unfolding of performance: simultaneously, through insertion, or after the fact? What about inventions and hybridizations? Finally, the written or filmed trace and its role in the conception, stabilization and diffusion of the work will be thought about.
  • One could also think about the performance of archives and in particular translator’s archives or any archive that brings translation into play: we will think about translators’ archives, theaters’ and performers’ archives, and also the archiving of translation processes in the age of new media, especially the archive of e-literature translation; questions of the unarchivable nature of the ephemeral and strategies implemented for its archiving will be up for discussion, and also questions as to how archives are performed, i.e. how they are activated for the public.
  • For performance poetry as well as performing arts including theater, we will consider ways of performing translation; but also ways in which translation has become an object of performance; we will think about the specificities of poetic performance, of theatrical performance and of performance more broadly in contexts of translation. The reader’s body, temporalities of on-stage translation, the tools and forms that are put into play in performed translation, interactions between author, performer and spectators, and the possible antagonisms that they give rises to.
  • This conference is also interested in sociological questions: what does performance do to translators as a professional group? (Who practices it? How do they work? (What training, expertise, tools, networks and modalities of interaction are drawn on?) What does performance do to translative processes and products? What does translation do to performers as a professional group? (Who practices translation? How do they work? (What training, expertise, tools, networks and modalities of interaction are drawn on?) What does translation do to processes and products of performance? How does the study of these two groups and approaches have an effect on sociological methods?

300-word proposals for contributions as well as a short biography of the participant(s) should be sent by September 2, 2019 to, responses will be given before the end of September.


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—, « Traduire ce que les mots ne disent pas, mais ce qu’ils font » Meta : journal des traducteurs, 40-3, 1995, p. 514–517.

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