During the years we have worked with different indigenous communities, we have witnessed many cultural and social gatherings where cultural knowledge has been transmitted between people of different generations and ethnic and educational backgrounds. While the sharing of cultural knowledge is important for creating understanding, a big part of linguistic knowledge can be lost, if there is no translation and a hegemonic language becomes the common lingua franca.
Translation Tours is a method for shifting the focus of artistic collaboration from creating forums into the translation of talks and texts between people who don´t share a common language. We became interested in translation as an artistic tool in Four Corners project (1996–2000). Lea started translating correspondence between Finnish first grade students of Sääksjärvi school and Estonian and Seto first grade students of Obinitsa school, who were all learning to read and write. However, Seto language was not taught at school, and the use of language was declining. After four years of intensive correspondence the children of Obinitsa made a bus tour to visit Sääksjärvi and Helsinki. The project and the tour functioned as an long-lasting inspiration for the revitalization of Seto language and culture, because the Finnish children and teachers were asking questions about Seto culture, and the Seto children and teachers had to find answers to them.
The arrangements of Translation Tours are usually initiated by community activists. We participate actively in the planning process, but during the actual conversations the dialogue is mostly carried out and defined by the indigenous speakers and our focus is on translation and documentation. We see our artistic practice as forming constellations of conversation during these social processes. The collected audio-visual documentation is an important part of the follow-up of the tour projects and the planning of new tours.
Seto visit Saami
Wixaritari visit Saami