Weekly Wonderings #37 BSL and translation in my Art



The last couple of weeks have been eye opening for me. As I move more into the world of art and my own creativity I seriously thought I would be leaving the world of Interpreting and sign language behind.

Well, low and behold my first piece of work has BSL translation as the main material of the work! And I’m set to continue on this theme as I start to develop.

By using it as a material I mean that the sign language translation is what I have used in the piece to start discourse, to ask a question of language, power, mediation and meaning.

To be honest I shouldn’t be surprised that BSL is coming through into my art. I have been using it constantly for 16 years now! Language is also a wonderfully rich element of life. Not only is it visual and tactile but it is steeped in history. The history of Sign Language (as with any language) is rich with politics, religion, oppression, control, but also communication, education and freedom. The history and discourse on translation is also a massive topic, touching on semiotics, philosophy, psychoanalytic and so much more.

I am not Deaf, BSL is my second language not my first, but I have a huge interest in language so it makes complete sense that it would influence my ideas and interests.
If you are looking specifically for Deaf Artists or other Artists who use BSL in their work then please see the links at the bottom of the page.

It’s a scary business using materials and language in different ways, and I look forward to where it will take me. That’s what doing this MA is about. It’s about developing my ideas and looking at wider issues and interests through this sphere called art. About how I see the world and what questions I want to ask.

I am going to spend the next couple of weeks digging deeper into research and writings on translation, mediation and the themes that run through this. I am excited by the ideas around the possibility and impossibility of translation. The theoretical ideas of Derrida, Blanchot, Ricoer and artists who have used these ideas within their work such as Tere Recarens and Ketlug Ataman.

I am not sure if BSL will continue to feature in my work long term – who knows! But for now I am excited that it is and the ideas around language and mediation are a deep and delicious place to begin.


Useful sources
An interesting article on translation and art that I am starting with written by Modesta de Paola.

Artist using ASL
Other sources (organisations, companies, festivals and events)

Dada (Deaf and disability arts)

Deafinitely Theatre (Acclaimed Deaf -led theatre company)



Disability Arts online also have a great list of arts and non arts organisations that are Deaf-led. (Including some international organisations)


Rochester Deaf Artists and International Archive of Deaf Artists

There are loads more sites than this list but these may be a useful starting point!