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Margaret (Back Translation)

Saskia Holmkvist's new monograph evolves around her film Margaret (Back Translation). The film weaves together staged scenes, documentary elements and archival footage, exploring the recent history of Belfast through a series of tonally diverse scenes, by turns comic, elegiac and speculative. It involves a dialogue that speaks back to the evanescent nature of a past performance, acting as a filter through which to create new memories. The monograph acts in similar ways in connecting an idiosyncratic journey to a film.
Behind the title and film, Margaret (Back Translation), lies a performance event by artist Heather Allen who gave a spoken-word event performance in Belfast entitled KLub from 2001. Her performance commemorated Margaret Wright, whose brutal murder took place in a bar in 1994, the last (official) year of The Troubles in Northern Ireland. Holmkvist's film undertakes to "back translate" Allen's performance, via Holmkvist's own experience of post-Troubles Northern Ireland from a distance and its contemporary artistic community. In the process, however, Margaret (Back Translation), explores how we can never simply return to, or recover, an "original" context. The film's real subject itself remains fugitive, always just out of shot. Instead the film constructs its narrative from absences, halting conversations, memories of secondhand experience, people who never quite appear from behind half-open doors. The film, Margaret (Back Translation), suggests how difficult it is to identify how, precisely, history informs our present – even when that history seems inescapable. The entire process becomes a quest for connection with a place marked by a tumultuous history.
Saskia Holmkvist (born 1971) is an artist based in Stockholm. She is also a teacher and professor in fine art at the Oslo academy of the arts. Her work is concerned with exploring the limits of translation drawing from ways of practice within the domain of translation and how it shapes and forms relations and historical trajectories, in particular the impact on agency. Working in a circular mode of connectivity, bringing together themes of historic erasure and limits of translation through critical listening, oral speculation, repetitions into works of performance and film installation.
Edited by Corina Oprea.
Contributions by Sara Eliassen, Sue-Ann Harding, Temi Odumosu, Manuel Pelmus, Saskia Holmkvist, Jan Verwoert.

Graphic design: Jonas Williamson.
2024 (publication expected by 2nd quarter)
English edition

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