On Translating Garbage

Lina Mounzer at The Paris Review:

These texts are frustrating to be sure, but they are more or less straightforward. See, every translator of garbage ends up with their particular niche, and mine is the art text. Literature-adjacent, one might say, but only in the sense that the majority of such texts ooze with the self-satisfaction of the worst literature. They put on airs, use words they don’t seem to fully understand, name-drop incessantly, and try to gaslight you at every turn of phrase into thinking that your inability to grasp their point is due to some lack on your part instead of theirs.

Nothing drives home the vacuousness of an art text like having to dissect its every hollow carapace of a sentence. I once translated nearly thirty pages of an artist’s manifesto and still for the life of me was unable to picture not only what his work looked like but of what it consisted. Was it a video? An installation? Fluxus performance? (It ended up being found-object sculpture.) The text was so far up its own abstract ass it had entirely lost sight of the actual work (which I have come to understand is the entire point of an art text).

more here.