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Between Translation and Creation: Getting inspired by Chinese Art and Films

Have you ever felt inspired by a film, a story, an artwork or a song from another culture, even if it feels very foreign to you? In my mind, art has the power to cross boundaries. People can appreciate a work of art through their own creative and subjective interpretations. The process of subjective interpretation or translation of culture can be very creative, and breed exciting new work and ideas.

I am looking forward to sharing with you the artwork and films that I grew up with, art that excites me and harbours incredible meanings.

In this course, we will learn about the many different ways to approach, appreciate and gain inspiration to write from a range of classical and contemporary Chinese films, art and music. We do not aim at a definitive way of approaching these works. Instead, what is encouraged is an open-minded, creative exploration of cultural translation that focuses on the multiple dimensions of our personal encounter with art and subjective meanings.

We will find out more about the social, historical, and linguistic contexts for the works, gather, and respond to these new pieces of knowledge. For example, what is the everyday life like in Ming Dynasty, as captured by the classical scroll painting, River on the Qingming Festival by Zhang Zeduan, now exhibited in the Palace Museum? Or, what is the political context that underlies the complex dilemma of the female spy in Lust, Caution directed by Ang Lee, adapted from Eileen Chang’s novel?

By exploring the contexts and meanings of these films and artworks, we embark on an adventure together: to find new ways of appreciating these materials, to engage in ekphrastic processes, weaving history, images, fables, names, and metaphors into our poems. By tapping into the rich potential of translation and creation, we are leaving our comfort zone, as we push boundaries with storytelling, our poetic voices, and language.

Jennifer Wong’s online course, Between Translation & Creation: Transreading Chinese Art & Films, runs fortnightly between 19 January and 30 March. Join the waiting list by e-mailing [email protected].

Photo by Ari He on Unsplash

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