The art of translation and the translation of art: perspectives on translating the arts from five languages

Laura Bennett (UK), Ann Marie Bohan (Ireland), Joanna Martínez (Spain)
The world of art history translation can often be highly complex and wide-ranging in content and draws on any number of other fields and disciplines, such as history, philosophy, politics, literature, economics and even medicine. Many different text types and linguistic registers also demand a variety of approaches requiring translators to be flexible, conversant with stylistic norms in each area and aware of the expectations of different types of audiences.
In this presentation, the speakers will draw on their own experiences to discuss the particular issues faced and their own working practices, both in general terms and by providing detailed examples of previous projects. They will also discuss their backgrounds, sources of work and different types of clients, research options and tools, strategies for continuous professional development and routes into the specialisation. The source languages covered will be Spanish, Italian, German, French and Catalan and the speakers will seek to determine the similarities and differences between the various source and target markets. Finally, they will touch on the lateral thinking that is sometimes required and the extra mile that needs to be travelled when translating art-related texts.
Laura Bennett has been a full-time freelance translator from French and Italian into English for four years. She specialises in Art History and Museum translation and holds an MA in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. Before becoming a translator, she worked as a Tour Leader for a number of years, visiting many of Europe’s art historical and cultural sites. She has recently contributed translations for the catalogues of major exhibitions at Tate Modern and Versailles.
Ann Marie Bohan, holder of a degree in Translation Studies and an MA in Communications and Cultural Studies, has been a full-time freelance translator from German and French into English for 14 years. In addition to her forays into the art world, she translates in a range of other disciplines including marketing, PR, automotive and business.
Joanna Martinez has worked full-time as an in-house and freelance translator in Barcelona for over 25 years, specialising in Art and Corporate Law and translating from Spanish and Catalan into English. Her clients have included art galleries and museums as well as Spanish, UK and US art publishers. Her latest assignment was the catalogue of the Joan Miró sculpture exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (UK) in 2012–13.