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Ângela Ferreira’s Maison Tropicale: Architecture, Colonialism and the Politics of Translation

Allen, Fiona Elizabeth (2015) Ângela Ferreira’s Maison Tropicale: Architecture, Colonialism and the Politics of Translation. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Allen_FE_Fine Art_PhD_2015.pdf - Final eThesis - complete (pdf)
Restricted until 1 July 2021.


This thesis explores the possibility of presenting translation as a framework through which to address the act of remaking. More specifically, it considers how the relationship between two closely connected, but ultimately distinct terms – translatability and untranslatability – might allow this gesture to be reconceptualised within the current artistic and theoretical climate. Rather than presenting translation as the basis for a new theoretical paradigm or attempting to provide an overview of contemporary art, the thesis focuses upon a single artwork: Ângela Ferreira’s Maison Tropicale. Commissioned for the 2007 Venice Biennale, Ferreira’s project takes its lead from a colonial housing project by Jean Prouvé. Combining architecture and installation with a series of colour photographs, the work considers the implications of reproducing a modernist object in the present. Through a discussion of the social and aesthetic tensions which inform this process, this thesis explores the possibility of presenting translation as a ‘properly political’ framework; one which allows for a more detailed investigation into the histories and power relations at play within Maison Tropicale. To set the stage for this investigation, the project begins by addressing a series of categories that have previously been used to discuss the act of remaking – namely allegory, parody and the archive. In doing so, it provides a critical reassessment of these lines of enquiry and considers the benefits of bringing translation to the fore. Having established the relevance of such a strategy, the thesis then turns to the relationship between translatability and untranslatability. Drawing upon Walter Benjamin’s 1923 essay ‘The Task of the Translator’, Chapter 2 raises the possibility of presenting installation as a temporal practice. By bringing the notion of translatability and the sculptural aspects of Ferreira’s project into dialogue, it examines how the themes of history, loss and decontextualisation are addressed within Maison Tropicale. Building upon these lines of enquiry, Chapter 3 takes its lead from the question of untranslatability. With reference to the work of Emily Apter, it explores how the photographic components of Ferreira’s installation might allow for an alternative reading of these motifs. The thesis concludes by considering how these ostensibly conflictual approaches might be thought together.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Fiona Allen
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2016 09:32
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2018 13:21
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/13288

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