The word ‘translation’ has many different variations of it’s meaning. At it’s core however, it ‘simply means a second copy of the original.’ The word “translation” by its etymology means to bear / carry across. In this sense, “translation” may refer to displacement / dislocation as well as the relocation of something’ (Mishra, 2012, p. 65).
This definition of translation bears stark similarity to the experience of diaspora. And translation, in the intersemiotic transmutation sense of the word (Jackobson, 1959) describes this process of diaspora. For a diaspora of a community is in simple terms a second copy of the original culture; one that gets affected by it’s new geographical and cultural contexts, much like the practice of translation. Both terms ‘involve acts of displacements and relocation’ (Mishra, 2012, p.62). Needless to say, diasporic communities often-times face translation as a key issue when moving to a country in which the language of the motherland is not spoken. Language as well as culture and habits originating from the motherland have issues translating across to the new home, often leading to uncomfortable situations. It is commonplace for members of the diaspora to feel alienation in their new homes (Mishra, 2012) and this alienation experienced by members of the Indian diaspora based in Australia is what I intend to explore in my work through the lens of translation.
Along with standard generational translation issues, having faced alienation between family members due to upbringings in completely polar cultures is an experience that many members of diasporic community experience; experienced by both first and second-generation members (Sharma, 2012). The work attempts to explore and rectify these sentiments of alienation by representing a heart to heart conversation from parents to the children about the struggles and hurdles they have faced in order to provide better lives for their children. This practice is commonplace in many Eastern cultures as many first-generation migrants have experienced similar stories of struggling; especially in Western countries where oftentimes they are vilified and unappreciated.
Through the representation and mistranslation of these conversations in a mother tongue that is familiar yet murky for a second-generation Australian Indian who was previously embarrassed of her ethnic heritage, the communicational barriers that emerge between the generations make the alienation felt between them apparently. However, this sentiment will juxtapose with understanding via a mutual experience of alienation and mistreatment from the new home-land and a longing for the idea of what the motherland once was.
The aim of this piece is to give voice to these experiences and reclaim the representation of diasporic families in Australian media; a large portion of Australia’s population that receives very little representation. The piece aims to use a blend of Bollywood and Hollywood aesthetics to reclaim the ways in which Indian bodies of the diaspora are portrayed in culture. The use of a minimalist aesthetic and small color palette of jewel tones will help enable a dream-like effect in the work, presenting the experience as a memory that will not be forgotten and has richness and clarity to it.
Video exhibited at B.T.W exhibition at Freda’s Down Under Space 30th May 2018.
Interviewees – Veera Chippada & Shobha Chippada
Concept, Production, Art Direction, Translation, Editing – Monisha Chippada
Filming, Art Direction – Christine Zhang