The easy way out

The easy way out

3 Channel video rear projection / Headsets / Speakers / Slideshow / Quote Karl Kraus / 20’ / 2010

In this audio-visual project, interpreters, who normally work in the shadow of the diplomats and politicians for whom they interpret, are put in the spotlight, in front of the video camera, and observed. The starting point of this project was an audio recording that I made on the border of the US military training area in Grafenwöhr, Bavaria. It centres on a discussion between a US soldier who has just come back from Iraq, a German hotel owner in Grafenwöhr who provides accommodation for soldiers and the bilingual car saleswoman who lives next door. The three interpreters experiment with simultaneously interpreting this conversation which moves from everyday life in Bavaria and in conflict zones right through to political opinions and stances.
I filmed this moment of seeking words and comprehension, of attempting to transfer information and of simultaneous understanding in a situation that is stressful for the interpreters. The recording is on three separate, synchronously recorded pieces of footage.
In the exhibition room, the interpretations can be heard through the headsets, and at the same time the video images of the respective interpreters appear projected on three screens. The original audio conversation, recorded in Bavaria, is broadcast into the room over speakers. The information in the conversation is fragmented and thus leaves space for verification and attentive listening to the words and meanings, and their origins. The observer is also struck by the repeated speechlessness of the interpreters faced with the conversation to be interpreted, as well as their efforts to extract themselves from this void. Photographs of this “border area” between the US military training area and the Bavarian country landscape are presented on flat screens. Territorial symbols and cultural traces can be identified.

„Wer etwas zu sagen hat, trete vor und schweige!“
Karl Kraus, aus „In dieser grossen Zeit“ Die Fackel Nr. 404, Dezember 1914

There are two versions of this installation: one with German interpreters and one with French interpreters.

With support from the City of Bern Cultural Department, Canton of Bern Cultural Office and the Migros Cultural Percentage.
With assistance from the École de traduction et d’interprétation ETI, Geneva.