Performing Religions | Translation! Festival 2019

Performing Religion: Translation, Live Art and Exploration of the Self, was a public performance and open conversation session exploring the intersections of translation studies and Live Art practices around notions of religion and identity as part of the University of Exeter’s Translation! Festival 2019: Languages in Motion.

Invited by co-curators Alessandra Cianetti and Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies Dr. Hephzibah Israel (University of Edinburgh), artist Sara Zaltash presented her newly commissioned performance, ‘Construction of Equivalence,’ in response to Hephzibah Israel’s research on religion, conversion, and South Asian contexts. The session focussed on the artist’s response to the rare case of a woman’s autobiography writing about conversion published in the 1930s: ‘I Follow After’ by Lakshmibai Tilak (Lakshmi).

For performingborders, this was a first attempt to delve into the aesthetic, social, political, and cultural intricacies of religions and spiritualities and it was a fantastic experience to find stimulating, fun, and fierce companions in Hephzibah, Sara, and Lakshmi.

The performance was followed by a conversation between the artist Beloved Sara Zaltash, Alessandra Cianetti, Dr. Hephzibah Israel, and a Q&A with the audience and performance’s participants.

Translation! Festival 2019: Languages in Motion is a celebration of languages and cultures that will take place throughout the day on Friday 27th September at Exeter Central Library, Exeter Phoenix, and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum. A range of thought-provoking, exciting and interactive events will celebrate the uniqueness and diversity of languages and cultures, and give the public a chance to discover the many innovative ways of translating between them… the written word and beyond!
The University of Exeter’s Translation Festival is funded by the British Academy and the College of Humanities at Exeter. This is a free event and part of the University’s Arts and Culture.

Beloved Sara Zaltash serves across disciplines, ideologies and theologies. Her bespoke spectacles, ceremonies, rituals, workshops, one-to-one consultations and writing are interwoven with her candid, entertaining and lyrical exuberance. Her output sits, for now, in one of the following projects: Approaches to Embodied Islam, Divination for Justice, Ministry of Us and In Excelsis Productions. Beloved Sara Zaltash is a Research Fellow of the Schumacher Institute and Associate Fellow of St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace.

Hephzibah Israel is Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies, University of Edinburgh. Her current research interests include translation and religion, literary translation, literary practice and translation in South Asia. She led an AHRC-funded collaborative research project (2014-2017) under their ‘Translating Cultures’ theme which focused on the role of translation in the movement of religious concepts across languages and the ways in which this impacts religious conversion and autobiographical writing about conversion experiences.

Alessandra Cianetti is a London-based art curator and creative producer. Her work explores notions and lived experiences of physical, cultural, juridical, racial, gendered, economic borders. She has worked internationally on multi-disciplinary live and visual art projects in partnership with several arts organisations, institutions, and universities.

Featured image credits: Beloved Sara Zaltash, 2019

Video- documentation by Theo Moye (Exeter) – Editing by Studio MaBa (London)

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