MET workshops

Translating art from Spanish

Art is usually considered a generalist subject — unlike, say, medical or legal translation — and one that almost any translator can tackle. This idea stems perhaps from the fact that references to art and architecture make up a considerable part of “tourist literature”, a tricky genre with an art component that can be full of pitfalls. At the other end of the scale, art criticism can be extremely academic; and in between are guide books, exhibition catalogues, audio guides, etc. Confronting art translations therefore requires an awareness of the complexities involved, access to reliable resources, time spent on research, and sensitivity to the style required in each particular case.
Purpose: To discuss approaches to problem-solving in the translation of texts relating to art (basically painting, but we will also touch on sculpture, print-making and architecture).
Developer and facilitator: Joanna Martinez
Description/structure: We will first consider the main types of clients requiring translations in this field and the differences in their target markets and will then focus on the range of text types that translators are likely to encounter. The subjects covered will include art techniques; art criticism; museums and exhibitions; periods, genres, “isms” and movements; and the variety of other disciplines that have a bearing on art.
Participants will work on sample texts and we will discuss how to approach them, with an emphasis on some of the many hazards to be avoided. Finally, we will look at print and online reference works and resources.
Who should attend? Translators venturing into this field and those already working in it, with English as their target language and Spanish as their source language.

Outcomes: Participants should gain a better idea of whether they are equipped to undertake art translation and feel able to approach it more confidently. Those who find occasional references to art and architecture in texts in related fields will gain awareness of some of the problems involved.

Pre-workshop tasks:
Browse the English language websites of some of the following Spanish museums to get a sense of how they are translated and what improvements are needed:
Museo del Prado, Madrid
MNCARS, Madrid
IVAM, Valencia
MNAC, Barcelona
And browse the information on this UK museum’s website with the same critical eye:
Tate, UK
Shortly before the workshop, participants will be sent short extracts from these websites to consider in more detail. We’ll be concentrating on some of them during the workshop.

About the facilitator:
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 and Spanish, UK and US art publishers, for which she has translated numerous exhibition catalogues and over 20 books. She is a member of ITI, ASETRAD and MET.