I have had many discussions with a specialist from Global History/Studies about Artscross and have gained some constructive insights from this perspective, since one of my brothers happens to be a professor in the field. Several issues that we have dealt with as part of our Artscross discussions have been much written about within Global Studies, such as the idea of there existing ‘multiple modernities’ in different places, and they are reflected in the different perspectives that Artscross brings together (1).
A further interesting research area deals with languages and translation, which is of course is heightened in the project here that brings different languages intentionally into the creative processes that unfold in the rehearsal spaces. Without a perspective that is sensitive to global developments and interactions much would go amiss, and it is important to bear in mind that languages itself are a product of translations between encounters with those from ‘elsewhere’. And hence languages contain many past misunderstandings in terms of their evolution.
As part of Artscross the differences in the languages we speak are being continually highlighted, such as today in Vida Midgelow’s session when we were guided through an exercise that led to the creation of ‘sound-words’. This clearly relied on a language being written in an alphabet and simply did not work for Mandarin.
Research around the idea of ‘translingual practice’ emphasises the danger of a searching for direct translations and an imposing of theories or concepts in a comparative way, where however different languages also entail different ways of thinking. Lydia Liu has written much about the incommensurability of words, which leads to the idea that the world can be understood in multiple ways (2). Referring to Jacques Derrida and Walter Benjamin, Liu writes that an original and its translation productively create meanings that are larger than ‘copies or reproductions’ (ibid. p.15).
What I am taking away from this research mostly for now is a going beyond thinking in terms of an East/West binary and ask questions around how these encounters we witness here not only in the rehearsal spaces but also in the many discussions that unfold between academics are productive and in the sense of being transformative to each individual engaged.
(1) Dominic Sachsenmaier and Jens Riedel, with Shmuel Eisenstadt (eds.), Reflections on Multiple Modernities: European, Chinese, and Other Approaches, Leiden: Brill, 2002
(2) Lydia Liu, Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity – China, 1900–1937, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995