For a year, I wrote by hand on paper, a haiku-a-day. Then I translated the haikus to Norwegian, using Google Translate. Of course, these translations are not accurate and likely make little sense. This act is a modern enactment of the term: transliterations. Sometimes bad translation can be funny and sometimes they can be rude, or in extreme cases fatal.

As a personal endeavour, as in much of my work, I look for ways to transform frustration into joy, alter forms of ridicule to reveal the ridiculous. In this project, I ask can laughter be in service to mending divided relations? or are such aspirations purely naive in the times we live today. Can understanding the words we use everyday are so easily misunderstood-that people can fall in love with misunderstanding and this delight in misunderstanding creates the basis of hate and conflict? Can looking at the misunderstanding as a situation of error, reveal our humility and regrow understanding of and for each other?

The project services a study in structure and rules, such that an English poem following the rules of Haiku, are then broken when translated. In this case project, the words were translated to Norwegian.  In an exhibition, the poems could be translated to another language. The original language could be different and then translated into English. The transliteration can go all ways.

The idea to do this haiku project started with a desire to learn Norwegian because I was about to move there and experiencing a great deal of existential fear in relocating from the safe knowing of my home country.  I had no reason really to leave, but only the invitation to join my beloved across the ocean.

The language courses were difficult; so I distracted myself from the pain of misunderstanding the grammar and became enamoured with studying the etymology of words- the pace of learning Norwegian was slowed. And in many ways, though deeply frustrating at times still-I learned a great deal about the English language and how I have used words I thought I new their meaning and really, in fact, did not. And if in today’s culture speaking words with different meanings is permitted-then how do we uphold the structures which we rely upon?

Enter the value in latency of learning: The ripples, halos, after effects of learning and having the learning come around later.

Exhibition Note: The project is protected by international, intellectual copyright laws. An interactive exhibition invites visitors to write-in their haikus to be translated as part of playing with words and learning different cultures. I would like to see a world amongst our technological connectivity, where difference is appreciated.

Rachel Wolfe

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