Proust in Translation at Wolf by Kenneth Baker
Washington, D.C., artist Molly Springfield committed herself to a crushingly demanding project in the making of Translation, her drawing series on view at Steven Wolf Fine Arts.
She set out to copy cipher-for-cipher photocopies of closely corresponding pages from the several English translations of Marcel Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu.
Springfield's ultimate concern may be the loss and gain of information that any translation, even a copy, involves. In drawing the photocopied book pages, she carefully rendered the "gutter" shadows created by the copy machine, the striations of the unexposed pages' edges and the margins of seeming nothingness that surround the books splayed on the copier glass.
Layering representations evidently fascinates Springfield. Otherwise how could she see such a project through?
Proust's fiction of concatenating memory frames, subjected to various translators' decisions, duplicated mechanically and then again manually: All these structures involve compaction of time into an artifact. In that sense, they all involve a futile resistance to time's mincing of experience and reality.
Futile, perhaps, but also irresistible.
Springfield's "translations" form a sort of score in reverse: a transcription of her performance of copying copies of translations of an authoritative original.
Her drawings also conflate looking and reading in a manner at once comic and grave: an exhibition of rare conceptual elegance.