Anna Tebelius

London Guildhall University: Fine Art

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Artist Statement

Working towards the end

There are a few ongoing themes in my work. One of them is the idea of the end. The end both as a metaphor and a physical finitude. The last pages of a novel, the finishing of the story. The end of language, where its words are no longer enough, when they are useless. 'I was lost of words!' The end can be both the redeemer and the destroyer. Sometimes there is a happy ending, sometimes not. It is when everything stops to exist, or it is when everything is solved and you are cured. Only memories are endless. In all my work, there is this kind of search for knowing what is going to happen. If I show you the end, if I make you listen to a whole story, if I create a character, you do not have to worry. I guess making art about ends mean that for once I am in control. In between, waiting for the end, I want to know what words you choose, what language, and what translation do you use for explaining a smell, a touch, or a smile. Language is a structure, an organisational device that you use to translate your every day world. It is dependent on society and culture. Language fascinates me, not so much Spanish, Chinese or whatever, but all the other languages, the academic, the spoken, the literary, all the millions of different ways of using language. Sometimes the dialogue in my work is between me and the language, where I am playing with it, trying to put it on its head. Sometimes the dialogue is between me and someone I miss, and then language is a hiding place. I want to create situations where everything is perfect, where all seems to be real. Books are books, and machines work on their own, just press play. The only things that are not perfect, that are not sterile, in metal, are the voices, the words, written or whispered. An old machine plays a recording, it is no longer only a machine but sculptural and affectionate object. In my installations, a performance is going on but the performer has left the room and only the machines are there for documentation, recording the whole event, playing the evidence of what happened. Then they stop and it is the end.


Polyfem Förvandlad/
Polyphemus Metamorphosed
- a translated conversation (2002).

The installation consists of two Reel to Reel Recorders, placed on high plinths, standing asymmetrical from each other, the recorders are connected to a mixer, an amplifier and two speakers, all which are placed on a table, in between the plinths. One speaker channels the sound from one recorder and vice versa. The room is semi-dark, the plinths lighted by spotlights.

One recorder is playing a complete reading in Swedish of the novel Polyphemus Metamorphosed by Willy Kyrklund. The other recorder is playing a direct, instant translation of this novel, from Swedish to English, by Charles Harrison-Wallace. The two recordings are played simultaneously.

The project seeks to explore the relationship between language, spoken (as in the instant translation) and written (as in the correct reading). It attempts to play with literature and translation, transforming literature to spoken word in the translation and taking into account that the language of a translation is not first hand but originates from an already written language. The words of the novel are translated, but instantly, making the grammar incomplete, unstructured. The Swedish reading, which is correct and structured if you would understand it, becomes, to the listener, only a structured melody, sound or a stereotype, that you recognise as a language.

The Reel to Reel recorders themselves are machines creating sound and speech. The mechanics contra the voices, a recorded dialogue. And in an instant the recorders become art objects, sculptures.

It is also about the telling of a story, which obviously has a beginning, middle and an end, giving the piece a finitude. A place where it is all over. The reader and the translator reaches the last page of the book, there is nothing more to say, please press stop on the machines.


Anna Tebelius

London Guildhall University: Fine Art

For sales, commissions and to send comments to the artist.


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