Ana María CaballeroBeing Borges
- Presented by
- OFFICE IMPART
Berlin Art Week
13 September 2023
Waldenserstr. 2–4, 10551 Berlin
25 October 2023
Being Borges, is a transdisciplinary series by Ana María Caballero, presented in partnership with Verse and Office Impart. It proposes a new form of literary translation, begging the question: What’s at stake when language becomes literal via the visual?
As a literary artist, Caballero’s work is rooted in the written word. For BEING BORGES she selected twelve creatures from Jorge Luis Borges and Margarita Guerrero’s iconic work of literature The Book of Imaginary Beings—a vast, soulful compendium of humanity’s imagined creatures. She then selected the equivalent texts from this book’s 1970 English translation by Norman Thomas di Giovanni, which Borges himself supervised.
Caballero used these raw texts—intervening in no way whatsoever other than via parametrization—to generate AI photographs. In doing so, she reveals how this technology visually interprets Spanish versus English, unmasking biases ingrained in large data sets and underscoring the limits of literal translation.
The visual variances between the resulting images evidence the impossibility of “reading” Spanish and English in the same way, reminding us that languages are different sign systems with nuances and meanings that exist beyond their constructed signifiers.
The artist also wrote a poem inspired by the original Spanish text, incorporating AI-generative semantics to delve into the poetics of prompts and weaving in intertextuality. This poem underwent the same text-to-AI image translation, confronting the poetic with the prosaic.
Though the series will have a total of twelve beings, only three are currently being released. The remaining beings will be released at a later date.
Sophie Calle’s Suite Vénitienne, via which Calle attempts to describes a subject by documenting her efforts to approach him, inspired Caballero to access the core myths in Borges and Guerrero’s book through multiple texts, seeking to humanize the fantastical by mapping these stories as analog, documentary-style photographs rather than painted, digitized or otherwise imagined forms. The interplay of text and image in Being Borges pays homage to Calle’s work.
The multifold layers of this project are plotted in a digital collage where Caballero triangulated all inputs and outputs. With language framing so much of human thought process, Being Borges invites viewers to experience multilingual and multimodal readership as a transdisciplinary work of art.
To be Borges, is to play hide and seek with imagination and to know it will never be pinned down.
Though the series will have a total of twelve Beings, three are presented now.
One full set consisting of the three AI-generated photographs, the original poem and the collage is available to acquire for each Being. Printed, signed copies of each original poem are available via special arrangement.