Creative and political (sub)titling as activism: migratory perspectives in the visual arts’

13 June 2022, 6:00 pm–7:00 pm

Part of the Translation, Memory, Migration (UCL / SOAS Global Translation Lectures) series

This event is free.

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Kathryn Batchelor

Media products, cultures and the arts have recently been transformed by migration, and these cultural and aesthetic transformations have favoured the re-shaping of identities, ethnicities, distant societies, and minority groups. The increased options of multiple digital platforms available for the production of activist practices and activities, and the spread of non-profit associations and non-governmental organisations (e.g., Sole Luna Doc Film Festival, Counterpoints Arts; Developing Artists), have contributed to addressing social and ethical issues through a documentary mode of production, where (sub)titling procedures and varieties of subtitles have been transformed into spaces of activism. In this context, I argue, (sub)titles can be identified as not merely spaces of translation, but also as accessible spaces of narration for the (re)creation and (re)construction of identities, places, and concepts. Against the backdrop of narrative theory (Baker 2006) and accessibility as a new terrain of human rights practice (Greco 2016), and in light of the widely accepted view of the creative industries (DCMS 2001) as producers and distributors of services that convey cultural meanings – where the borders between art and industry are often blurred –, this study examines a corpus composed of (sub)titles belonging to Martina Melilli’s documentary My Home, in Libya (2018) and Zoe Lafferty’s theatrical performance The Queens of Syria (2016).  

Baker, M. 2006. Translation and Conflict: A Narrative Account, London: Routledge.
DCMS, 2001. Industries Mapping Document, DCMS, London.
Greco, G. 2016. “On Accessibility as a Human Right, with an Application to Media Accessibility”. In A. Matamala & P. Orero (eds.), Researching Audio Description. New Approaches, London: Palgrave, 11-33.

About the Speaker 

Alessandra Rizzo is Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities at the University of Palermo, where she teaches ESP and audiovisual translation. She holds a PhD and a Master of Arts in  Translation from the University of Essex. She was Visiting Scholar at the University of Roehampton and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Westminster. She is a member of the Centre for Research in Translation and Transcultural Studies and of the AIA, ESIST and EST associations. Her research interests focus on audiovisual translation, creative domestication, accessibility, ELF in the context of migration and the visual arts, and subtitling as counter discourse. She has extensively published in national and international journals, and in dedicated volumes. She edited the special issue “Translation and Accessibility for All in the Creative Industries: Digital Spaces and Cultural Contexts” for Bridge: Trends and Traditions in Translation and Interpreting Studies (2020), and  coedited Translation or Transcreation? (with Cinzia Spinzi e Marianna Zummo, 2018) and the special issue “Translating the margin: Lost voices in the aesthetic discourse” for InVerbis (with Karen Seago, 2018). She is currently working on the monograph New Perspectives on Translation. Aesthetics of migration in Documentaries and for the Stage (Peter Lang).