MET workshops

Translating for the art world

Multimillion-dollar sales, blockbuster exhibitions and scholarly research: many of the different aspects of the art world rely on translation. Art translation can often be deceptively complex and wide-ranging, touching on other fields such as politics, literature and philosophy. The variety of text types and end users demands flexibility, creativity and accuracy from the translator. This workshop will focus on the various types of art texts that require translation and the approaches to adopt, addressing the sensitivities to style required in each particular case.

Facilitator: Laura Bennett

Purpose: To consider the most suitable approaches to translating different types of art texts and the particular issues that arise when working from Romance languages into English.

Description: The workshop will begin with an introduction to the various types of art texts that require translation and the approaches to adopt. Participants will then work in small groups on translating sample texts of different kinds from French, Italian and Spanish into English. Depending on the working languages of participants, the workshop will end with a discussion of particular issues that arise when translating from other Romance languages into English for the art world.

Who should attend? Both translators new to the field and those already working in it. Particular attention will be paid to issues arising when translating from Romance languages into English (in keeping with the facilitator’s language combinations) but translators working from other languages into English are welcome to attend. Any potential participants who are concerned about the language requirements are encouraged to contact the facilitator before signing up.

Outcome skills: Participants should gain a better understanding of how best to approach different types of art world texts and be more confident about resolving recurring issues. Those relatively new to art world texts will gain an awareness of some of the hidden complexities.

Pre-workshop tasks: Participants are encouraged to give some thought to any particularly thorny problems they face in this field in their own language combination(s) and to bring along their own translations into English for discussion with the group in the latter part of the workshop. A few short articles discussing translating art texts will be distributed for advance reading to familiarise participants with some of the relevant issues.
About the facilitator: Laura Bennett has been a full-time freelance translator from French and Italian into English for thirteen years. She specialises in art history and sports translation and holds an MA in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art. Her translation work includes catalogues for major exhibitions (National Gallery, Tate Modern and The Barnes Foundation), audio guide scripts and academic essays. She is an MITI and MCIL, as well as a member of MET, the Society of Authors, and the Association of Art Historians.