Published by
Fivehundredplaces /
V-A-C Foundation
40 pages
11 × 15 cm

Price: 50 lei

With translations by Galina Rymbu, Georgia Sagri, Elena Narbutaitė, Freya Choi, Jakob Kolding.

Valzhyna Mort's Guest in translation initiates a new series co-produced by Fivehundred Places and V–A–C Press, Moscow, and is designed to explore some of the outer reaches of translation. Each book in the series is dedicated to multiple translations of a single poem. Inspired by a comment from Ilya Kaminsky about how translation should open windows and not create mirrors, artists, dancers, musicians, philosophers, curators, writers and visual thinkers were invited to imagine translations from their unique perspective, using a poem as a starting point, to make a version of that poem.

Guest is a Lamentation on Mort's native city Minsk. In this moment where democracy is being challenged in droves of violence, and the mourning of the individuals who have been crushed by oppressive systems, Mort's poem Guest is a song of our times.

Valzhnah Mort is naturally one of the important voices of the current situation in Belarus. Hear an incredible conversation with her on NPR this past week.

I asked several artists who I imagined could relate/ meditate/ absorb some ideas of how spaces, monuments and cities can be activated. I asked some artists and a curator to translate Guest to their mother tongue. (leaving this notion open to interpretation) I thought of Georgia Sagri's incredible actions as one of the founders of the Occupy Wallstreet movement. Freya Choi connecting and disconnecting from the democracy movement in Hong Kong. Elena Narbutaite, a resident of Vilnius, in the neighbouring Lithuania, and what connections through translation could correspond to the original simply using the witness of language. I also asked Jakob Kolding Who's work I have admired for decades, about the conflicted instruments of the construction satellite urban spaces in the name of freedom, but peddled the inescapable thumb of capitalism. Also translating Guest to Russian is Galina Rymbu, who has worked with Mort to produce several translations of her poems.

Translations are greedy (the need for more) they are a sort of re-mix, a dance, they are true and untrue. The artist's voice has potential for the sort of recklessness of imagination that I am looking for now.